The Fund outperformed the Index in October 2022. We use both bottom-up “stock-specific” and top-down factor categories to seek to forecast alpha for the stocks in the Portfolio’s investable universe. Our bottom-up growth and technical factors were positive indicators during the month. Our valuation and competitive strength factors were negative. Of our top-down factors, sector was a positive indicator. Our currency, macroeconomic, and country factors were negative indicators in October.
Earnings growth upgrades for EM equities continue to lag those in ex-US developed markets. The EM sectors with the weakest net upgrades were materials, communication services, and industrials. Slowing global growth has contributed to lower expectations for industrials, which reflect weakness in the shipping sector, and materials companies. Communication services is primarily driven by the Chinese platform companies, which have been impacted by the country’s slowing growth. Sectors with positive net upgrades were financials and energy. Financials are benefitting from positive credit cycles in India and Brazil, countries where we are identifying attractive investment opportunities in banks. The energy sector has been buoyed by oil, coal, and natural gas prices, which remain relatively strong. From a country perspective, South Korea, South Africa, and China had the weakest net upgrades. The export-dependent, technology-oriented South Korean economy has been impacted by slowing global growth. South Africa is a commodity-oriented economy and reflects the falling commodity prices. Covid-19 restrictions continue to slow growth in China. While we incorporate growth expectations into our multi-factor investment process, we continue to emphasize valuation in our approach. With a balance of favorable valuation, growth, and price momentum characteristics relative to the Index, we believe the portfolio offers attractive risk-adjusted return potential looking forward.
In October, we adjusted our earnings growth factor to, in our view, better reflect sentiment for commodity-related stocks. Based on our research, sell-side analyst earnings revisions for this cohort of stocks may be inconsistent with the price movement of the underlying commodities. In some cases, analysts are slow to update estimates, while in other cases, analysts base their forecasts on forward contracts, which adjust with a lag compared to spot prices. Additionally, extreme movements in commodity prices are often met with supply and demand responses, resulting in price reversals. For these reasons, we believe that adjusting our earnings growth factor for commodity-related stocks can potentially improve the Portfolio’s risk-adjusted returns.
Emerging Markets UCITS Fund
The Causeway Emerging Markets UCITS Fund (“Fund”) performed in-line with the Index in April 2022. We use both bottom-up “stock-specific” and top-down factor categories to seek to forecast alpha for the stocks in the Fund’s investable universe. Our bottom-up valuation and price momentum factors were positive indicators during the month while growth and competitive strength were negative. Of our top-down factors, our macroeconomic and currency factors were positive. Our country and sector factors were negative indicators in April.
Earnings growth upgrades for EM equities continue to lag those in developed markets. EM sectors with the weakest earnings upgrades were communication services, consumer discretionary, and real estate. All three of these sectors are dominated by Chinese stocks, which were impacted by the Covid-19 lockdowns. The sectors with the strongest earnings upgrades were energy, information technology, and financials. Energy benefitted from strong oil prices and information technology benefitted from positive revisions for a few larger capitalization stocks. Financials benefitted from rising interest rates. The countries with the weakest net upgrades include China, India, and Thailand. While Covid-19 containment policies have weighed on Chinese stocks, rising commodity prices have dampened the growth outlook for Indian equities. The countries with the strongest net upgrades include Taiwan, Turkey, and Mexico. Positive revisions for larger capitalization companies drove strength in Taiwan. We are overweight Taiwanese stocks in the Fund due to attractive bottom-up and top-down characteristics. Mexican stocks have benefitted from economic linkages with the US. While we incorporate growth expectations into our multi-factor investment process, we continue to emphasize valuation in our approach. With a balance of favorable valuation, growth, and price momentum characteristics relative to the Index, we believe the portfolio provides outperformance potential looking forward.
Global Value UCITS Fund
The Causeway Global Value UCITS Fund (“Fund”) outperformed the Index during the month, due primarily to stock selection. Fund holdings in the software & services, banks, and capital goods industry groups, as well as an underweight position in the retailing and automobiles & components industry groups, contributed to relative performance. Holdings in the insurance, health care equipment & services, and pharmaceuticals & biotechnology industry groups, along with an overweight position in the media & entertainment industry group and an underweight position in the energy industry group, offset some of the outperformance compared to the Index. The top contributor to return was banking & financial services company, UniCredit S.p.A. (Italy). Other notable contributors included jet engine manufacturer, Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc (United Kingdom), rolling stock, signaling, & services provider for the rail industry, Alstom SA (France), business software & services provider, SAP SE (Germany), and power & healthcare conglomerate, General Electric Co. (United States). The largest detractor was social media giant, Meta Platforms, Inc. (United States). Additional notable detractors included life insurer, Prudential Plc (United Kingdom), healthcare equipment & services provider, Koninklijke Philips NV (Netherlands), robotics manufacturer, FANUC Corp. (Japan), and technology conglomerate, Alphabet, Inc. (United States).
We believe that valuations for international equities, regardless of region, are increasingly promising for investors with a multi-year investment horizon. Currency slippage versus the US dollar should reverse, at least in part, as the interest rate differential between the US and Europe (for example) closes over the upcoming 12-18 months. Cyclical European equities incurred waves of selling after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. That investor exodus has brought some, in our view, world-class companies, in sectors such as materials, industrials, and consumer discretionary, into our buying range. We expect another area of meaningful alpha potential to come from developed markets stocks afflicted by China’s zero-Covid policy. We used the pessimism from delayed China reopening to gain exposure to, in our view, a broad array of competitively well-positioned companies that generate 10% or more of their respective revenues from the Chinese market. Typical of what Causeway seeks for its holdings, these companies have not wasted time while their China sales are weak; they have implemented operational restructuring to improve efficiency and lower costs in anticipation of a return to revenue expansion. Reopening, albeit gradual and without a precise timeframe, is inevitable in our view. Governments that asphyxiate their economies and cause social instability typically do not remain in power. We are convinced that China is no exception.
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