Investment Approach

Investment Process

Our goal is to produce an efficient portfolio on a risk/return basis. We undertake detailed fundamental research on individual companies, diversify across attractive companies and economic sectors, limit individual holding sizes, and employ a strict sell discipline. If we have identified a good business at a good price, time is our ally as patient investors. As a result, we have relatively low portfolio turnover in most strategies. Epoch’s Investment Policy Group, representing the most experienced members of the investment team, provides a macro-level perspective that portfolio managers may use as a context when evaluating individual companies and sectors. This is combined with rigorous quantitative and qualitative analysis that incorporates the following components:

1 Analyze the business:

Determine the sustainability of the business, earnings drivers, barriers to entry, and competitive advantages.

2 Understand the Cash Flow Structure:

Focus on companies that generate cash earnings and assess the quality and character of those earnings to determine the net cash flow from the business.

3 Relate Cash Flow to Enterprise Value:

Examine relevant claims against net cash flow and determine the necessity of these claims to maintain and grow the business. Evaluate how management will use free cash flow. Value the cash flow stream and compare it to enterprise value to determine the attractiveness of the investment.

4 Evaluate Management Quality:

Identify managements with the intention and demonstrated ability to create shareholder value.

5 Seek Unrecognized Assets:

Uncover, where possible, hidden, undervalued or underutilized assets, especially in under-researched small- and mid-cap companies.

6 Manage Risk:

Risk management is integrated into each step of the investment process. We have a team dedicated to quantitative research and risk management, ensuring that the portfolio construction process takes into account aggregation risks and diversification objectives. The goal is twofold: first, to minimize stock-specific risk through greater diversification, and second, to avoid unintended risks or biases at the portfolio level. Our Chief Risk Officer is a co-portfolio manager of every strategy we offer. As a result, the lead portfolio manager is continually aware of these risks. While the research and security selection methodology is the starting point for all of Epoch’s equity strategies, the portfolio construction process is adaptable to the specific parameters of each investment strategy and our clients’ individual guidelines.

Our Perspectives

Of late, people are blaming a variety of economic ills on an unlikely villain: the desire of investors to earn good returns on capital. But, no industry can be expected to survive if it is not creating value for the investors in that industry. Earning good returns on capital is not an obstacle to satisfying consumer demands; it’s what enables companies to continue to satisfy those demands.

Until recently, we had been living in a disinflationary environment that started in the 1980s. We believe three factors – Deglobalization, Demographics and Decarbonization – have led us to a secular reflationary environment. As a result the next decade is going to look quite different than the 2010s, with a number of critical implications for investors.

The transition to net-zero emissions (NZE) involves a fundamental change in the structure of the economy, and will likely be messy, implying periodic supply shortages and even more volatile energy prices. Further, inflation and nominal interest rates will probably be higher and more volatile, especially relative to the levels of the last two decades. This has not yet been priced into markets.

China has launched a new policy framework, “Common Prosperity,” which escalates government steerage of the economy and features two critical initiatives. First, Beijing is taking action to tame the country’s real estate obsession. Second, the “summer blizzard” of regulatory actions has targeted a wide range of tech-related sectors including fintech, social media, online tutoring and gaming. Here, we examine the implications for investors of the pendulum swinging ever further in favor of the state.

The recent surge in start-ups and unicorns reflects the broadening of the digital revolution across industries, and suggests improving productivity and free cash flow. Further, although the digitization of the economy is still in early earnings, we expect digital platforms to represent the majority of market cap by 2025, with tech, health care and communications the most promising sectors.

Inflation risks are at a four-decade high due to today’s combination of a generous Treasury, an overly tolerant Fed, and a reopening economy. While our base-case scenario assumes only a brief period of above-target inflation, investors should brace themselves for more inflation scares, which will likely remain a key driver of equity markets well into 2022.