America Is Great. Home Country Bias Ain’t (GMO)

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Here’s a great article from the team at GMO that demonstrates how “home country bias” may be hurting your performance. Home country bias means investors have a natural tendency to focus their investments in companies and markets in their own country.

Here’s an excerpt from that article:

Investors have clearly rewarded US companies for their higher earnings growth by paying significantly higher prices for them. Perhaps, though, the market has gotten ahead of itself. Equities are long-duration assets – investors are not just buying stocks for the next few years of earnings, they are buying an earnings stream stretching out for decades. In competitive economies and markets, both valuations (price multiples) and profit margins (return on capital) tend to mean revert.

Our founder and Chief Strategist Jeremy Grantham, however, points out a number of reasons why US profit margins may stay elevated and take longer than prior periods to mean revert (see “This Time Seems Very, Very Different,” Jeremy Grantham, 1Q 2017). While valuation has been a great predictor of return, it unfortunately does not tell us much about the timing in which assets will mean revert to fair or normal levels. We still believe, though, that the price you pay for an asset is the biggest determinant of the return you will make. The more you pay, the less you will make.

Rather than buy the comfortable asset, investors should ask, “What’s in the price?” We would argue that the relatively good news in the US is more than reflected in asset prices. Emerging and developed ex-US stocks look to be more attractively priced (even accounting for higher fundamental risks). In fairness, nothing looks cheap. The best we can say is that value stocks in emerging markets look to be near fair value and that the spread between expected returns for emerging market value and US stocks is quite wide. In addition, emerging markets offer modestly attractive currencies. We believe long-term investors able to ride out the invariable market swings should fight their home country bias and buy emerging.

You can read the full article here.

This article was originally posted by Johnny Hopkins at The Acquirer’s Multiple.

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About the Author

The Acquirer's Multiple
The Acquirer’s Multiple® is the valuation ratio used to find attractive takeover candidates. It examines several financial statement items that other multiples like the price-to-earnings ratio do not, including debt, preferred stock, and minority interests; and interest, tax, depreciation, amortization. The Acquirer’s Multiple® is calculated as follows: Enterprise Value / Operating Earnings* It is based on the investment strategy described in the book Deep Value: Why Activist Investors and Other Contrarians Battle for Control of Losing Corporations, written by Tobias Carlisle, founder of acquirersmultiple.com. The Acquirer’s Multiple® differs from The Magic Formula® Earnings Yield because The Acquirer’s Multiple® uses operating earnings in place of EBIT. Operating earnings is constructed from the top of the income statement down, where EBIT is constructed from the bottom up. Calculating operating earnings from the top down standardizes the metric, making a comparison across companies, industries and sectors possible, and, by excluding special items–earnings that a company does not expect to recur in future years–ensures that these earnings are related only to operations. Similarly, The Acquirer’s Multiple® differs from the ordinary enterprise multiple because it uses operating earnings in place of EBITDA, which is also constructed from the bottom up. Tobias Carlisle is also the Chief Investment Officer of Carbon Beach Asset Management LLC. He's best known as the author of the well regarded Deep Value website Greenbackd, the book Deep Value: Why Activists Investors and Other Contrarians Battle for Control of Losing Corporations (2014, Wiley Finance), and Quantitative Value: A Practitioner’s Guide to Automating Intelligent Investment and Eliminating Behavioral Errors (2012, Wiley Finance). He has extensive experience in investment management, business valuation, public company corporate governance, and corporate law. Articles written for Seeking Alpha are provided by the team of analysts at acquirersmultiple.com, home of The Acquirer's Multiple Deep Value Stock Screener. All metrics use trailing twelve month or most recent quarter data. * The screener uses the CRSP/Compustat merged database “OIADP” line item defined as “Operating Income After Depreciation.”

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