Global Equity Shareholder Yield
Seeks superior total and risk-adjusted returns with high dividend income and below-market volatility. At a Glance Our Global Equity Shareholder Yield strategy pursues attractive total returns with an above-average level of income by investing in a diversified portfolio of global companies with strong and growing free cash flow. Companies in the portfolio possess managements that focus on creating value for shareholders through consistent and rational capital allocation policies with an emphasis on cash dividends, share repurchases and debt reduction — the key components of shareholder yield. The portfolio generally holds between 90 and 120 stocks from equity markets worldwide, with risk controls to diversify the sources of shareholder yield and minimize volatility.
The Global Equity Shareholder Yield Opportunity
- Access to a portfolio of high-quality global companies with attractive income and capital appreciation potential
- Portfolio holdings generate strong free cash flow and use their excess cash to provide shareholder yield — dividends, share buybacks and debt pay downs — without taking undue business risk
- Active management by an investment team with an average of over 20 years of experience
- Risk management integrated with the investment process, seeking to achieve the least possible volatility for the return characteristics sought and capital preservation in down markets; the five-year average beta is 0.75
- Record of strong relative and risk-adjusted returns since inception
- Cash-flow-oriented approach and relatively low correlation with benchmark complements other managers within an overall asset allocation plan
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.
This strategy uses proprietary quantitative research to identify potential investments. We look for factors including high current dividend yield, growth in cash flow, cash from operations that exceeds dividends and no dividend cancellations. 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. Management’s track record of allocating capital is scrutinized as we look for those with the discipline to return cash to shareholders if the expected return for other uses of cash does not exceed the firm’s cost of capital. We select stocks that can meet our 6% shareholder yield requirements, with 4.5% coming from dividends and 1.5% coming from share buybacks and debt repayments. We also look for a 3% minimum growth rate of cash flow. Once a stock has been purchased for the portfolio, we continually revisit our thesis and sell the stock if it appears the company will no longer be able to provide the required level of shareholder yield or if we see another investment with the characteristics we are looking for with less risk.
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 sources of yield so that no single stock is relied on too heavily to achieve the portfolio’s yield targets.
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.
During the past two years, CBDC has progressed from a bold speculative concept to a seeming inevitability and will soon be a core feature of our financial ecosystem. The rollout of CBDCs will further accelerate the digitization of the economy, which is the key defining feature of markets over the past decade. This paper explores the implications for monetary policy, the FinTech and payments sectors, and the potential disintermediation of significant swaths of the commercial banking system.
Money 3.0: Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC)
The Cambrian explosion of exciting breakthroughs in AI, autonomous driving, 5G, and cloud computing will drive double-digit growth in semiconductor revenues for the foreseeable future. Superstar firms have come to dominate all subsectors of the increasingly concentrated semiconductor industry, which implies pricing power and explains the sector’s attractive operating margins and return on capital. Valuations are reasonable, and we have a constructive view on the semiconductor sector and believe it possesses considerable upside.
Moore’s Law & the Race for the Rest of the Chessboard
Both sides of the political spectrum have been increasing their calls for regulatory action on the Big Tech companies. Here we explain why tech will continue to be the most dynamic sector of the economy, and why we expect greater breadth in tech market leadership and the emergence of entirely new sub-sectors.