8 min read | by Rich McCormick | I spent two weeks in June traveling throughout Europe, engaging with a range of old and new contacts – political leaders, regulators, and management teams from over 40 companies in the insurance, banking, fintech, and industrial sectors. Throughout the trip and upon my return, I kept this journal of the most significant takeaways and implications for our portfolio positioning – some reinforcements to previously-held beliefs and a few surprises.
1 min read | Stock-based compensation (SBC) in the technology sector has proliferated in recent years, driven by the war for talent and a period marked by low cost of capital, plentiful access to capital, and rising valuations. The challenge comes when decade-long market tailwinds begin to change direction. The virtuous cycle of aggressive stock issuance to employees, elevated ‘adjusted’ earnings, rising stock prices, and strong employee engagement can become vicious when it unwinds.
The Altrinsic International Equity portfolio declined 1.5% during the first quarter, outperforming the MSCI EAFE Index’s 5.9% decline, as measured in US dollars. Just as most nations began lifting COVID-related restrictions and returning to normal, tensions intensified amidst surging inflationary pressures, tightening policy measures in the US, lockdowns in China, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
3 min read | Hypersonic weaponry is one of the most disruptive technologies in modern defense. We recognize that this is a controversial, sensitive, and potentially polarizing topic for multiple reasons, especially given the ongoing war in Ukraine. Yet, given the significant resources governments are committing to hypersonic research and innovation, we felt it would be valuable to provide a brief, fact-based review of hypersonic technology, its history, and the potential implications from both geopolitical and industry standpoints. Our sole intent is to provide an educational overview.
Beginning with the January insurrection at the US Capitol and ending with the rapidly spreading Omicron COVID-19 variant, 2021 provided much for markets to digest. Nonetheless, equity markets continued their rise with support from re-opening economies, strong corporate earnings growth, and stimulative monetary and fiscal policies. US equities and “growth” stocks continued to lead markets during the fourth quarter, but important transitions are underway that are supportive of a long overdue broadening away from this leadership in markets.
7 min read | Data breaches are up 280-fold over the past decade, and worldwide underinvestment in cybersecurity and data protection is a massive problem. A ransomware attack now occurs every 11 seconds. The cost to control cybercrime has ballooned to 1% of global GDP but related spending still represents just 3.6% of companies’ IT budgets. This paper by Glenn Cunningham (global technology analyst), presents a case for why data has become one of the world’s hottest commodities and why protecting it has become a hot button topic for corporate and political leaders alike.
The Altrinsic International Equity portfolio declined 2.2% during the quarter, compared with declines of 0.4% and 3.0% for the MSCI EAFE and MSCI All Country World ex-US indices, respectively, as measured in US dollars. Strong performance by our financials holdings was offset by weakness among health care, communications, and consumer-related investments that lagged due to uncertainties stemming from COVID-19 and China.
This interview with two of our research analysts, Rich McCormick (global financials) and Glenn Cunningham (global technology), dives into the underappreciated risk of disruption to traditional banking businesses. Fintech firms have banks' profitable consumer and small business segments in the cross-hairs. Meanwhile, investors have largely been bullish on banks since the November 2020 COVID-19 vaccine announcement. We question how much value is left to unleash and believe the risks of disruption could take center stage.
Equity markets delivered strong gains in the second quarter, aided by continued policy stimulus, robust economic and corporate earnings growth, positive sentiment stemming from fewer global COVID-19 cases, and a supportive interest rate environment. Health care stocks led the market on softening political rhetoric and positive new drug discoveries, while higher quality stocks in consumer staples and technology also advanced sharply.
Equity returns were strong in the first quarter, supported by positive economic and corporate earnings revisions that offset the negative impact of rising interest rates. The Altrinsic International Equity portfolio gained 3.6%, as measured in US dollars, compared with the MSCI EAFE Index’s 3.5%. The most significant market developments were a continued rotation into cyclical and leveraged equities, a surge in commodity prices (S&P GSCI +14.2%), increased inflation expectations, and negative returns for bonds (FTSE WGBI -3.2%).