Oportunidades en autos y telecos frente a la carestía de medios y consumo básico

Richard Halle, gestor del fondo M&G European Strategic Value, de M&G Investments, considera que pese algunos signos de estabilidad en julio, aún hay volatilidad en el mercado bursátil europeo. Con todo, cree que la mayor dispersión de valoraciones entre los valores existente desde el boom de las puntocom, deja claras oportunidades para su fondo. Por ejemplo, señala lo caro que se encuentra el sector de medios de comunicación o la industria de bienes de consumo básico en relación con los fabricantes de coches y las firmas de telecomunicaciones. En estos sectores, el gestor señala las virtudes de BMW, Peugeot, Daimler o Vodafone. Lea el comentario completo (en inglés) a continuación:

Faced with the prospect of a sovereign debt default in Europe and tough spending cuts by many governments, investors in the region’s equity market have had more than their fair share of challenges already this year. July showed promising signs of a return to some sense of stability as concerns eased but the see-saw effect of equity markets beforehand highlights just how unsettled the investment environment remains. Such volatile conditions call for a sound investment strategy - one which enables an investor to make this scenario work to his or her advantage.

The value-to-cost ratio (adjusted price-to-book ratio) of a business, the measure which we use to ascertain whether a company is expensive or not, is actually telling us that a valuation-based strategy is suited to European equities in today’s volatile conditions. More specifically, the dispersion of valuations across sectors in Europe has reached its highest point since the dotcom boom. If we take the value-to-cost ratio of every sector in Europe, we can see, for example, that the consumer staples industry is much more expensive than auto manufacturing and telecommunications as well.

Media is another sector that stands out as being too costly with a value-to-cost ratio of 3.1 compared to only 0.8 for auto manufacturers. Within the auto industry, we like BMW, Peugeot and Daimler. Not only are these three companies cheap, but they are also decent businesses, something that their valuations fail to reflect. Instead, their current share prices discount negative newsflow and do not acknowledge the quality and the strength of the companies’ balance sheets. Any investment in production, as well as the replacement cost of the businesses, is also overlooked. While investors might question whether the time is right to invest in a cyclical stock such as BMW, they cannot deny the company’s first-class track record in making good quality cars. Building BMW from scratch, in other words, the replacement cost of the firm, would set you back much more than buying the whole of the business in the stockmarket.

The same applies to Vodafone, which like other players in the telecommunications sector, has been shunned by investors due to a combination of ongoing pressure for regulatory changes, limited growth potential in the mobile and fixed line industry, and the fact that almost everybody now owns a mobile phone. On the plus side, this provides value investors with an excellent investment opportunity since what Vodafone, along with Telekom Austria and Deutsche Telekom lack in excitement, they make up for with the possibility to boost returns by selling mobile phone data. Even though the stellar growth days of these businesses are probably over, each one has the infrastructure in place to secure a promising future, having spent millions of pounds on the installation of base stations and networks, and the acquisition of licences, a decade ago.


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