Global Absolute Return
Seeks superior total and risk-adjusted returns by investing in a concentrated portfolio of global companies.
At a Glance
Our Global Absolute Return strategy targets attractive returns over time without assuming a high degree of capital risk by constructing a concentrated portfolio of global businesses we believe have superior risk-reward profiles. The portfolio consists of 25-35 securities reflecting the highest-conviction ideas of our investment team as appropriate for a concentrated portfolio. Companies are selected based on their ability to generate free cash flow and allocate it intelligently to benefit shareholders. Portfolio risk exposure is managed through the ability to allocate to cash using quantitative and qualitative asset allocation inputs to lessen the likelihood of loss of capital.
The Global Absolute Return Opportunity
- Latitude to invest across geographies and the market-cap spectrum, with access to attractively valued stocks regardless of artificial boundaries
- A concentrated portfolio, benefiting from proprietary research that drives our other U.S. and global strategies; a majority of positions are high convictions in our other strategies
- Cash used to preserve capital in down markets
- Active management by an investment team with an average of over 20 years of experience
- Risk management integrated with the investment process to minimize unintended risks and reduce volatility
- Record of strong total and risk-adjusted returns since inception
Epoch’s Distinct Investment Philosophy and Approach
The bedrock of our philosophy is that the growth and applications of free cash flow represent the best predictor of long-term shareholder return. As a result, our security selection process is focused on free-cash-flow metrics and capital allocation as opposed to traditional accounting-based metrics such as price-to-book and price-to-earnings. We look for a consistent, straightforward ability to generate free cash flow and to allocate it effectively among internal reinvestment opportunities, acquisitions, dividends, share repurchases and debt pay downs. An essential factor is the evaluation of each company’s management team to confirm their commitment to transparency and building shareholder value. The companies uncovered by this process have inherently less volatility due to their ability to generate cash flow.
The Global Absolute Return strategy looks across the strategies we manage as primary sources for investment ideas in assembling a concentrated portfolio. Our broader underlying U.S. and global strategies incorporate qualitative and quantitative analysis to identify potential investments, taking into consideration factors that can lead to growing cash flow. Stocks are then subject to rigorous fundamental research. We develop an investment thesis as we assess the sources of the company’s long-term value creation and management’s ability to nurture it. We scrutinize management’s track record of allocating capital, looking for those with the discipline to use free cash flow to maximize return on investment, thereby creating shareholder value. Once a stock has been purchased, we continually revisit our thesis and sell the stock if our price target is reached, our thesis changes or we see another investment with a better risk-reward profile. There is no limit on the portfolio’s cash position, and cash is actively raised in an effort to minimize capital loss in market downturns.
While the portfolio is constructed from the bottom up, decisions are made with consideration of the macro context. Epoch’s Investment Policy Group, composed of senior members of our different strategy groups, provides insight and guidance on the global market environment and macroeconomic and industry trends.
We analyze risk as part of the portfolio construction process to monitor portfolio volatility and better ensure the delivery of the strategy’s goals. A senior member of the Quantitative Research and Risk Management team is a co-portfolio manager on every strategy managed by Epoch so that portfolio managers are aware of unintended biases and the effect individual securities may have on the portfolio. The portfolio is diversified across sectors and the sizes of individual positions are limited.
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.
This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
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.
Greenflation: The Energy Transition Will Prove Inflationary
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.
China’s “Common Prosperity”: What Does it Mean for Investors?
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.
The Pandemic Accelerant Part II: Turbo-Charging the Digital Economy
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.