U.S. stocks were lower in August as the S&P 500 and Nasdaq suffered their first monthly declines since February. One notable challenge that stocks grappled with in August was rates rising again, despite the prevailing narrative of broader disinflation. However, even with this month’s declines, equities are having a great year, with the Nasdaq attaining its best first 8 months to start a year since 2003.
The “Magnificent Seven” mega-cap tech stocks remain at the forefront of news, driving nearly 72% of the S&P 500’s gains this year. Notably, Nvidia Corp. (NVDA), a major player contributing approximately 14% of the S&P 500’s returns for the year, recently reported robust earnings amidst the surging demand for artificial intelligence technology.
On August 25, Fed Chair Jerome Powell spoke at the annual economic symposium hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Powell noted that the Federal Reserve may need to raise interest rates further to cool still-too-high inflation and noted both the progress made on easing price pressures as well as risks from the surprising strength of the U.S. economy. Although Powell’s stance was notably less hawkish compared to his messaging a year ago, there is a strong likelihood that the Federal Reserve will implement at least one more interest rate hike by year-end.
Small-cap stocks sold off during the month and have underperformed the broader equity market in 2023 thus far. We continue to see abundant opportunities in small to mid-cap stocks, given the compelling valuation of the Russell 2000 Value, which currently trades at only 10-12x earnings. This stands in stark contrast to the broader market, which hovers closer to 20x earnings, representing one of the biggest deltas we have ever witnessed.
Merger Arbitrage performance in August was bolstered by deals that made significant progress in securing U.S. regulatory approvals. Shares of Horizon Therapeutics traded higher after the U.S. FTC indicated it was open to settlement discussions ahead of the September 11th trial date, and the FTC and parties formalized a settlement on September 1st. The deal is expected to close shortly after the October 5th Irish High Court hearing. Spreads firmed on other deals that experienced similar regulatory wins including: VMware being acquired by Broadcom for $85 billion in cash and stock; Black Knight was acquired in September by ICE for $12 billion in cash and stock, ForgeRock was acquired by Thoma Bravo for $2 billion in cash in August, and NuVasive was acquired by Globus Medical in September for $4 billion in stock. Investors are actively deploying capital in newly announced deals like Abcam plc, which is being acquired by Danaher for $6 billion cash, and Capri Holdings, which is being acquired by Tapestry Inc. for $10 billion cash.
August saw a return of volatility, and the convertibles market gave up some of its gains for the year but rebounded slightly as we approached month end. New convertible issuance picked up in August after companies reported earnings. We saw a mix of issuance that included companies that are new to convertibles, along with some that are returning to refinance existing debt. This mix of issuance is good for our market and it has generally been at attractive terms with higher coupons and lower premiums than many existing issues. With equities having moved substantially off the lows this year, we think convertibles offer a compelling value proposition. They allow us to stay invested in the market with an asymmetrical profile that has increasing equity sensitivity while still offering a yield advantage and near term maturities that should limit downside participation.
Opinion article by Michael Gabelli, Managing Director and President of Gabelli & Partners.
To access our proprietary value investment methodology, and dedicated merger arbitrage portfolio we offer the following UCITS Funds in each discipline:
GAMCO MERGER ARBITRAGE
GAMCO Merger Arbitrage UCITS Fund, launched in October 2011, is an open-end fund incorporated in Luxembourg and compliant with UCITS regulation. The team, dedicated strategy, and record dates back to 1985. The objective of the GAMCO Merger Arbitrage Fund is to achieve long-term capital growth by investing primarily in announced equity merger and acquisition transactions while maintaining a diversified portfolio. The Fund utilizes a highly specialized investment approach designed principally to profit from the successful completion of proposed mergers, takeovers, tender offers, leveraged buyouts and other types of corporate reorganizations. Analyzes and continuously monitors each pending transaction for potential risk, including: regulatory, terms, financing, and shareholder approval.
Merger investments are a highly liquid, non-market correlated, proven and consistent alternative to traditional fixed income and equity securities. Merger returns are dependent on deal spreads. Deal spreads are a function of time, deal risk premium, and interest rates. Returns are thus correlated to interest rate changes over the medium term and not the broader equity market. The prospect of rising rates would imply higher returns on mergers as spreads widen to compensate arbitrageurs. As bond markets decline (interest rates rise), merger returns should improve as capital allocation decisions adjust to the changes in the costs of capital.
Broad Market volatility can lead to widening of spreads in merger positions, coupled with our well-researched merger portfolios, offer the potential for enhanced IRRs through dynamic position sizing. Daily price volatility fluctuations coupled with less proprietary capital (the Volcker rule) in the U.S. have contributed to improving merger spreads and thus, overall returns. Thus our fund is well positioned as a cash substitute or fixed income alternative.
Our objectives are to compound and preserve wealth over time, while remaining non-correlated to the broad global markets. We created our first dedicated merger fund 32 years ago. Since then, our merger performance has grown client assets at an annualized rate of approximately 10.7% gross and 7.6% net since 1985. Today, we manage assets on behalf of institutional and high net worth clients globally in a variety of fund structures and mandates.
Class I USD – LU0687944552
Class I EUR – LU0687944396
Class A USD – LU0687943745
Class A EUR – LU0687943661
Class R USD – LU1453360825
Class R EUR – LU1453361476
GAMCO ALL CAP VALUE
The GAMCO All Cap Value UCITS Fund launched in May, 2015 utilizes Gabelli’s its proprietary PMV with a Catalyst™ investment methodology, which has been in place since 1977. The Fund seeks absolute returns through event driven value investing. Our methodology centers around fundamental, research-driven, value based investing with a focus on asset values, cash flows and identifiable catalysts to maximize returns independent of market direction. The fund draws on the experience of its global portfolio team and 35+ value research analysts.
GAMCO is an active, bottom-up, value investor, and seeks to achieve real capital appreciation (relative to inflation) over the long term regardless of market cycles. Our value-oriented stock selection process is based on the fundamental investment principles first articulated in 1934 by Graham and Dodd, the founders of modern security analysis, and further augmented by Mario Gabelli in 1977 with his introduction of the concepts of Private Market Value (PMV) with a Catalyst™ into equity analysis. PMV with a Catalyst™ is our unique research methodology that focuses on individual stock selection by identifying firms selling below intrinsic value with a reasonable probability of realizing their PMV’s which we define as the price a strategic or financial acquirer would be willing to pay for the entire enterprise. The fundamental valuation factors utilized to evaluate securities prior to inclusion/exclusion into the portfolio, our research driven approach views fundamental analysis as a three pronged approach: free cash flow (earnings before, interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, minus the capital expenditures necessary to grow/maintain the business); earnings per share trends; and private market value (PMV), which encompasses on and off balance sheet assets and liabilities. Our team arrives at a PMV valuation by a rigorous assessment of fundamentals from publicly available information and judgement gained from meeting management, covering all size companies globally and our comprehensive, accumulated knowledge of a variety of sectors. We then identify businesses for the portfolio possessing the proper margin of safety and research variables from our deep research universe.
Class I USD – LU1216601648
Class I EUR – LU1216601564
Class A USD – LU1216600913
Class A EUR – LU1216600673
Class R USD – LU1453359900
Class R EUR – LU1453360155
GAMCO CONVERTIBLE SECURITIES
GAMCO Convertible Securities’ objective is to seek to provide current income as well as long term capital appreciation through a total return strategy by investing in a diversified portfolio of global convertible securities.
The Fund leverages the firm’s history of investing in dedicated convertible security portfolios since 1979.
The fund invests in convertible securities, as well as other instruments that have economic characteristics similar to such securities, across global markets (but the fund will not invest in contingent convertible notes). The fund may invest in securities of any market capitalization or credit quality, including up to 100% in below investment grade or unrated securities, and may from time to time invest a significant amount of its assets in securities of smaller companies. Convertible securities may include any suitable convertible instruments such as convertible bonds, convertible notes or convertible preference shares.
By actively managing the fund and investing in convertible securities, the investment manager seeks the opportunity to participate in the capital appreciation of underlying stocks, while at the same time relying on the fixed income aspect of the convertible securities to provide current income and reduced price volatility, which can limit the risk of loss in a down equity market.
Class I USD LU2264533006
Class I EUR LU2264532966
Class A USD LU2264532701
Class A EUR LU2264532610
Class R USD LU2264533345
Class R EUR LU2264533261
Class F USD LU2264533691
Class F EUR LU2264533428
The information and any opinions have been obtained from or are based on sources believed to be reliable but accuracy cannot be guaranteed. No responsibility can be accepted for any consequential loss arising from the use of this information. The information is expressed at its date and is issued only to and directed only at those individuals who are permitted to receive such information in accordance with the applicable statutes. In some countries the distribution of this publication may be restricted. It is your responsibility to ﬁnd out what those restrictions are and observe them.
Some of the statements in this presentation may contain or be based on forward looking statements, forecasts, estimates, projections, targets, or prognosis (“forward looking statements”), which reﬂect the manager’s current view of future events, economic developments and ﬁnancial performance. Such forward looking statements are typically indicated by the use of words which express an estimate, expectation, belief, target or forecast. Such forward looking statements are based on an assessment of historical economic data, on the experience and current plans of the investment manager and/or certain advisors of the manager, and on the indicated sources. These forward looking statements contain no representation or warranty of whatever kind that such future events will occur or that they will occur as described herein, or that such results will be achieved by the fund or the investments of the fund, as the occurrence of these events and the results of the fund are subject to various risks and uncertainties. The actual portfolio, and thus results, of the fund may differ substantially from those assumed in the forward looking statements. The manager and its affiliates will not undertake to update or review the forward looking statements contained in this presentation, whether as result of new information or any future event or otherwise.