Market Insider – Investing Ireland August 2021

Investing Ireland August 2021
Investing in Ireland 2021

Fiat 50 motors on! – Investing Ireland August 2021

Last month marked the 50th anniversary of the “Nixon Shock” of August, 1971, whereby the US dollar’s unpegging from its Gold Standard straitjacket served to liberate the fiat currency printing presses of the global financial system in a manner that has fuelled a debt-financed asset-inflation odyssey for three generations of investors.

Equity markets duly celebrated this landmark anniversary with their 7th consecutive month of gains, that Worry Wall of Delta variant, peak growth (for economies and earnings), inflation risk, Fed taper talk and now Afghanistan still being climbed in resolute fashion by a TINA investment community amply lubricated by the excess liquidity drip-feed of current central bank policy settings.

The MSCI World advanced by a further 2.5% in August, its recovery from the March, 2020 lows now exceeding 100% (dividends included).

Value indices once again lagged Growth on both sides of the Atlantic, although the gap narrowed from previous months, with financials extending their recovery back towards cycle peaks.

The S&P500 secured it’s 54th record close ytd above 4,500 by month’s-end, whilst the STOXX 600 enjoyed 10 straight gains, its longest run of consecutive daily advances since 2006. Equity markets were not without their mid-month swoon, however, this a recurring (and perhaps options-expiry related) feature of the past several months.

Some acute intra-month volatility across bond and commodity complexes also; US real yields rebounded sharply from fresh record lows (-1.22% in 10yr TIPS) as taper talk resurfaced, Gold endured a $115 flash crash to sub-$1700 early-August before recovering above its $1800 pivot point, and Brent crude tested both ends of a $65-75 range-trade as COVID uncertainties abounded.

By contrast, currency markets were an oasis of calm, with Eur/USD still engaged in a sideways meander above its perceived 1.1600 floor.

Equities – Investing Ireland August 2021

Another month of gains for global stock markets, their 7th straight advance, both S&P500 and STOXX 600 indices now reporting total returns of 20%+ on a ytd basis.

A stellar Q2 corporate earnings season remained the primary impulse, although the Delta variant did impact on sectoral performance, the more defensive Nasdaq (+4.1%) once again showing the way on Wall Street.

Emerging markets (+2.6%) enjoyed their best performance since January, courtesy of renewed liquidity support from the People’s Bank of China, while the US Senate’s passage of a $550bn bipartisan infrastructure package was a timely reminder that overall policy support for economies and markets is not yet sated, the Fed’s taper talk notwithstanding. 

Bonds Investing Ireland August 2021

On the surface, bond markets were becalmed in August, with US Treasuries reporting their smallest move (-0.2%) in either direction for more than a year. However, yields did gyrate materially intra-month, with investors torn between the impact of a globally spreading Delta variant and that potential policy pivot by the major central banks.

The key 10yr Treasury yield touched a low of 1.13% early in the month, before an avalanche of Fed taper talk forced an abrupt about-turn to a 1.37% high late in the period.

The sell-off in Treasuries was compounded by renewed weakness in European government bonds, where the region’s highest headline inflation rate (+3.0%) since November, 2011 raised the spectre of a PEPP (asset purchase) dial-back by the ECB. 

Currencies Investing Ireland August 2021

A late-Summer lull descended over the foreign exchange markets last month, with relatively modest changes on the major crosses, although the US Dollar Index did manage to eke out a further 0.5% gain, while Sterling lost some ground on both USD and Euro fronts.

The dominant Eur/USD cross had an interesting month, recovering steadily from 1.1660 lows mid-August to a 1.1810 close. This exchange rate is now tracking relative short-term interest rate movements quite closely, and it has been the firming up of Euribor quotes in the midst of strengthening Euroland data-flow and some quasi-hawkish soundings from certain ECB Governors that is now supporting a revival of investor interest in the single currency.

Commodities Investing Ireland August 2021

Although the CRB index flatlined in August following its recent steady gains, the energy components suffered their first decline since March, with both WTI (-7.4%) and Brent crude (-4.4%) selling off on concerns over slowing demand in China and the Delta variant more generally.

Industrial metals prices were also softer for the same reasons, whilst Gold prices endured a rollercoaster month, rebounding from a $115 flash crash in early-August to close broadly unchanged, that $1800 valuation level still exhibiting a magnetic attraction, be it  from above and below.

Asset Market Outlook Investing Ireland August 2021

  • Equity markets now entering their seasonally most vulnerable period, with the build-up of more defensive investor positioning signalling correction concerns
  • A mild pullback is certainly overdue although, remarkably, stocks are already cheapening on standard valuation metrics (both absolute and relative to bonds), whilst the degree of overall policy support (monetary and fiscal) remains acute
  • Tentative indications of slowly declining Delta spread following two months of gains harbinger of a “Reopening Trade” revival to favour rotation back to cyclical stocks 
  • Corrective rally in global bond markets has seemingly now run its course, the prospective dial-back of Fed and ECB asset purchases ensuring more adverse supply/demand conditions and a return to higher yields
  • USD rally finally running out of steam on fading relative interest-rate support, with Eur/USD eyeing a key 1.1950 retest, and scope for speculative longs to rebuild after a 3-mth flush-out
  • Gold prices still not straying too far away from their $1800 pivot, with ETF holdings now stabilised and Asian jewellery demand in recovery mode; needs to vault $1830 for breakout

Asset Allocation Investing Ireland August 2021 Outlook

                                  Equities      Bonds       Credit      Forex/Euro

US                                         +1              -2              -1                 -1

Euroland                              +2              -2              -1                 N/A

UK                                         +2              -2              -1                  0

Asia                                       +1              -1              -1                 -1

Code +3/-3 very attractive/ very unattractive

Financial Market Performance Data Investing Ireland August 2021 Outlook [1]

AugJulJunQ3YTD
Equity
MSCI WORLD2.51.81.54.418.3
MSCI EM2.6-6.70.2-4.32.9
S&P 5003.12.42.35.521.6
EUROSTOXX 6002.22.11.54.320.8
FTSE 1002.10.10.42.213.2
ISEQ5.61.9-0.77.620.1
Gov Bonds
US TREASURIES-0.21.40.81.2-1.5
EUR SOVEREIGNS-0.51.80.51.3-1.7
IRISH GILTS-0.61.90.41.3-2.4
Corp Bonds
US HIGH GRADE-0.21.21.61.10.1
EUR HIGH GRADE0.61.20.4-0.80.3
Commodities
CRB INDEX0.12.23.72.330.1
OIL – WTI-7.40.710.8-6.841.2
COPPER-2.74.3-8.11.523.9
GOLD0.12.5-7.22.6-4.5
FX
EUR/USD-0.50.1-3.1-0.4-3.3
EUR/STG0.6-0.4-0.40.2-4.1
Source: DB Research

Next steps

You can read our more investing in Ireland analysis here.

You can check out our other guides on Investing in Ireland here.

You can find out where to get individual investing in Ireland and financial advice in your area here.

Investments Ireland 2021 – Bonds Update

investments ireland 2021

If you are thinking about Investments Ireland 2021, you may be wondering how suitable bonds are as an asset class right now. Here’s the rundown on the latest trends in the bond market.

investments ireland 2021

Traditionally, bonds have always accounted for a significant portion of a well-constructed investment portfolio. This fixed-income asset class provides additional diversification for the more turbulent market conditions when stocks falter.

Although bonds still warrant a place in a well balanced portfolio, ultra-low interest rates and general investment market conditions require investors to review their bond allocations, and assess whether they should be reduced.

Read on to find out why.

Latest bond trends – Investments Ireland 2021

Inflation and the Yield curve – Investments Ireland 2021

Effect of bond yields on stock markets – Investments Ireland 2021

Jackson Hole – Late August FED Meeting – Investments Ireland 2021

Where to invest right now? – Investments Ireland 2021

Investment Outlook for bonds? – Investments Ireland 2021

Latest bond trends – Investments Ireland 2021

German 10-year government bonds are currently yielding -0.49%, which means they will lose 4.9% of their value in a 10-year time period, and that is before any inflation considerations. The current ultra-low interest rate environment creates a challenging dynamic for bond investors. 

Typically, bonds weaken in response to higher inflation, as inflation eats into the value of the regular fixed interest payments associated with bonds. 

On the other side of the Atlantic, 10yr US Treasury notes have rallied since the beginning of April and this has been the source of much confusion for investors, as the pace of US inflation (CPI) continues to worry. These elevated inflation levels have challenged the FED’s view that high inflation during the US recovery will be temporary. 

The consumer price index increased 0.5% in July, after climbing 0.9% in June. In the 12 months through July, the CPI advanced 5.4%, the fastest pace since August 2008. Although the CPI data for July decelerated, inflation still remains at significantly elevated levels.

US 10yr Treasury yields have continued to fall during this period, closing out July at 1.22%. Yields move inversely to the price of bonds.

Inflation and the Yield curve – Investments Ireland 2021

The June CPI inflation data initiated a counterintuitive trend within the US government bond market.

The rise of the COVID-19 delta variant and a surprise hawkish tilt from the FED in response to the inflation readings (prospect of “tapering”/reducing the bond buying program), surprisingly led to an increased demand for 10-year Treasury notes, even as the inflation readings were at levels last seen over a decade ago.

The surprise hawkish FED tilt also resulted in a spike in short-dated Treasury yields, resulting in a flatter US Treasury yield curve.

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The shape of the yield curve portrays the state of the overall economy. A normal upward sloping yield curve implies stable economic conditions, as yields increase for bonds with higher maturity.

Investors want to get compensated for holding bonds with a longer duration in a normal economic landscape. The recent flattening of a yield curve suggests a more uncertain economic environment and easing inflation concerns, in the anticipation of tighter monetary policy. 

Investors have been betting that an adjustment to short-term rates will have the ability to quash inflation concerns in the longer term, leading to the variation in movement between the front and back end of the curve.

Reduced summer trading volume coupled with weaker supply in recent Treasury auctions have also supported the downward trend of 10yr US Treasury yields.

Effect of bond yields on stock markets – Investments Ireland 2021

The negative relationship between US 10yr yields and the Nasdaq 100 (Tech) is evident in the chart below [1]:

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The recent advance in tech stocks (defensive COVID strategy) came at a time when the price of Treasury bills has risen. The yield on the 10-year Treasury has since fallen nearly a half a percent since the end of March, while the Nasdaq 100 has gained 17% over that period, outperforming the S&P 500 Index by more than 4%.

Jackson Hole – Late August FED Meeting – Investments Ireland 2021

As FED policy makers prepare for another virtual Jackson Hole conference at the end of August, the meeting seems to hold more significance for the global investor community than usual. Any indication that the FED is going to taper the bond buying program is likely to steepen government bond curves, as longer maturity bonds are likely to sell off. 

Longer-term interest rates have dominated equity markets over the past year. Investors that expect the 10-year yield to climb in in the latter part of 2021 and into 2022, should be reducing exposure to tech stocks – due to the risk of higher interest rates.

When the 10-year Treasury yield rose to 1.74% during the first quarter of 2021 (rise of 80 basis points), that period also coincided with a significant Growth to Value style rotation within equity markets. The MSCI World Value index rose by nearly 9% during that period, while the MSCI World Growth index barely moved.

This resulted in cheaper (undervalued) equity markets, such as Europe and the UK, outperforming the US. This trend has reversed over the past few months, as the 10-year US Treasury yield plunged to 1.17% by early August, as the fear over the Delta variant gripped global investment markets.

Delta concerns have supported renewed investment in the “stay at home” growth stocks, as they started to outperform again.

Where to invest right now? – Investments Ireland 2021

Investors should be focussing on sectors that are positioned to do well in an increasing yield curve environment, which is one that depicts economic reopening and recovery. The latest viral challenge should be viewed as yet another hurdle along the road to economic recovery, as opposed to a barrier, although the variant may cause a more uneven globally recovery.

Investment Outlook for bonds? – Investments Ireland 2021

According to a recent regulatory filing, Michael Burry, played by Chirstian Bale in the Big Short, has a large short position on long-term (20+ years) US Treasury bills. The options contracts will make money if the value of long-term Treasury bonds depreciate (yields go up). Burry, who was made famous by his very profitable bet against the US housing market, shares the same bearish outlook as many of Wall Street’s elite.

With the Federal Reserve inching ever closer to a “tapering” of its QE bond purchase program, all eyes are once again on the bond market.

Next steps

You can read our more investing in Ireland analysis here.

You can check out our other guides on Investing in Ireland here.

You can find out where to get individual investing in Ireland and financial advice in your area here.

Investing in Ireland 2021 – July Recap

Investing in Ireland 2021
Investing in Ireland 2021

Olympian Efforts – Investing in Ireland 2021

The struggle against COVID-19 is proving to be a global endeavour of Olympian proportions, but now the marathon efforts of the past 18 months have turned into something of a sprint, being a straight run-off between Vaccination and (delta) Variant in the desperate pursuit of economic reopening and societal normalisation.

Although latest investor sentiment surveys portray the virus as a fading “tail risk” for economies and markets, it is also the case that crowded positioning in the “Reopening Trade” for undervalued cyclical stocks has suffered meaningful profit-taking pressures over the past 10 weeks.

In consequence, the MSCI World Value index, which outperformed its Growth equivalent by as much as 12 pps from the start of this year to mid-May, has now surrendered this outperformance amidst re-rotation out of cyclical names (energy, banks, industrials) into more defensive plays (tech, healthcare).

For all that, equity markets continue to find ways to move higher, extending 2021’s clear pattern of rolling corrections under the bonnet (to SPACS, Meme stocks, Crypto and now Cyclicals), whilst overall indices grind higher to successive all-time peaks.

The MSCI World rose by a further 1.7% in July, its 6th straight monthly gain, a feat shared by the S&P500 and Europe’s STOXX600 which, in the latter case, is the longest winning streak since Draghi’s “whatever it takes” rally of 2012/13.

Clearly, equity markets are beneficiaries of sustained policy and liquidity support, factors which are also sustaining bond market performance in the face of accelerating inflation rates globally.

Benchmark 10yr yields declined by 25bps on both sides of the Atlantic last month, their biggest one-month drop since the height of the Pandemic panic in March, 2020.

This decline in yields prompted a recovery in Gold prices above $1800, amidst renewed (if tentative) ETF inflows after more than 6 months of sales.

Equities – Investing in Ireland 2021

A sharp contrast in equity market returns last month between the developed and emerging economies, that 1.7% gain in the MSCI World compared with a 7.1% decline in the MSCI EM.

As China’s abrupt regulatory clampdown on its internet and technology companies weighed very heavily on both the Shanghai Composite (-5.4%) and Hang Seng (-9.9%) indices, leaving the EM index now barely in positive territory on a ytd basis.

Lack of contagion towards the US and European markets is perhaps best explained by the insulation provided by a robust corporate earnings season now in full flow. However, the FTSE100 did snap a 5-mth winning streak with a marginal (-0.1%) decline.

Bonds Investing in Ireland 2021

The growing conundrum of declining bond yields in the midst of strengthening inflation rates globally continued to fixate last month, with 10yr benchmark Treasury yields falling by more than 25bps to a 1.22% close, low since mid-February.

Intriguingly, this decline in US yields was wholly attributable to the real yield component, whereas “breakeven” inflation was slightly higher on the month.

Sliding US bond yields were broadly matched in Europe, where 10yr benchmark Bund yields declined by 25bps to -0.46%, their biggest monthly drop since August, 2019.

Currencies Investing in Ireland 2021

A traditional mid-Summer lull in trading conditions was most apparent in foreign exchange markets last month, with the major currency pairs confined to generally sideways moves within their well-defined ranges.

The USD trade-weighted index slipped marginally in July, the previous rebalancing of predominantly short USD positioning having now substantially run its course.

Eur/USD found solid support close to ytd lows at 1.1750, ending the month with a topside probe towards the 1.1900 area, whilst Sterling responded to a more hopeful COVID-19 trajectory in a fully-reopened UK economy, the Eur/Stg cross retesting its ytd low circa 85c. 

Commodities Investing in Ireland 2021

Commodity markets enjoyed further broad-based gains last month, the CRB Index rising by 2.2% for its 4th straight gain (and 8 of the last 9), this index now scaling 6-year peaks.

Whilst oil prices have been leading the charge for much of 2021, last month proved a more volatile affair, with Brent crude completing a $76-67-76 round-trip amidst swirling uncertainty over the latest OPEC+ production accord.

Industrial metals rebounded from recent corrective pressures, as indeed did precious metals, with Gold prices clawing their way back to the key $1830 resistance area in response to the renewed slippage of both real yields and the USD.

Asset Market Outlook Investing in Ireland 2021

  • Equity markets still climbing a wall of worry (Delta variant, inflation, policy risks), testament to the potency of current macroeconomic, earnings and liquidity supports.
  • Stellar corporate earnings recovery mitigating equity overvaluation concerns, whilst renewed decline in bond yields reinforcing the relative valuation argument.
  • Significant investor positioning flush-out of “reflation trade” favourites (financials, energy, industrials) harbinger of renewed engagement as global growth jitters fade.
  • Conundrum of lower bond yields in the face of rising inflation risks perhaps best explained by the “financial repression” realities of central bank policymaking via zero interest rates and open-ended asset purchase programmes (QE).
  • Renewed decline in 10yr Treasury real yields to fresh record lows portending catch-up weakness for the US Dollar following last month’s disconnect; Eur/USD now targeting a 1.1950 vault for bullish continuation.
  • Gold ETF liquidations now seemingly having run their course, allowing prices to base-build above recent $1680 and $1760 lows; $1830 the next barrier to overcome ahead of a re-run to the $1900 area.

Asset Allocation Investing in Ireland 2021 Outlook

                                   Equities          Bonds       Credit       Forex/Euro

US                                           +1                  -2               -1                 -1

Euroland                               +2                   -2               -1                N/A

UK                                           +2                   -2               -1                  0

Asia                                         0                    -1               -1                 -1

Code +3/-3 very attractive/ very unattractive

Financial Market Performance Data Investing in Ireland 2021 Outlook [1]

image001

Next steps

You can read our more investing in Ireland analysis here.

You can check out our other guides on Investing in Ireland here.

You can find out where to get individual investing in Ireland and financial advice in your area here.

Irish Women Lead in Financial Literacy, New Irish Money Guide Survey Shows

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financial literacy

Financial literacy is crucial to having successful financial outcomes, yet only 55% of people in Ireland understand 3 out of the ‘big 4’ financial concepts [1]. This is almost 20% lower than in the UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Drilling into the data for Ireland the new moneysherpa study has three main takeaways.

  • The 18-44 age group is 20% further behind the curve than older age groups
  • Dublin lags rest of the country for financial literacy
  • Unlike findings in most other countries Irish women are 15% ahead of men when it comes to financial savvy

Read on to find out, why financial literacy matters, what the ‘big four’ concepts you need to know are and the Irish survey findings.

If you want to check out your own financial literacy score, you can take our financial literacy test.

Why financial literacy matters

Financial literacy matters more now than ever. According to a recent survey conducted by Laya healthcare, the single biggest source of worry for Irish people today is financial worry [2].

In an increasingly dog eat dog financial world where traditional safety nets like defined benefit pensions and jobs for life have fallen away, Irish consumers need to be able to financially fend for themselves.

Yet study after study has shown we are singularly unprepared for this task, with young people in particular lacking the basic skills and knowledge to make smart financial decisions.

Anne Richards, CEO of Fidelity International one of the largest financial providers in the world, believes real world money maths matters “Armies of people leave school knowing their SOHCAHTOA [trigonometry]” she said “perhaps teaching children and young students the building blocks of how mortgages, credit cards, insurance and pensions work … might be more useful.”

Financial Times

The good news is that these building blocks can be boiled down to just 4 fundamental concepts that are easy to learn and teach.

The ‘big four’ concepts you need to know

The 4 concepts behind financial literacy are very straightforward, yet over 66% of people worldwide failed to get 3 out 4 of them correct in the S&P Finlit survey.

  1. Diversification, spreading risk to reduce the overall level of risk = “never put all your eggs in one basket.”
  2. Inflation, the value of money isn’t fixed, it is simply a function of what you can buy with it.
  3. Numeracy, 2 + 2 does equal 4, good basic arithmetic is the cost of entry for financial literacy
  4. Compound Interest, is the interest you earn on your money, plus the interest it’s already accrued

The last one compound interest is a particularly slippery customer, because of the powerful mathematical process that lies behind it.

Albert Einstein is said to have called compounding “the most powerful force in the universe.”

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world,” Einstein reportedly said. “He who understands it, earns it. He who doesn’t, pays it.”

Inc.com

The exponential growth curve that results from compounding is often hard for us to get our head around and the source of many financial mis steps.

Irish financial literacy survey deep dive findings

18-44 age group under prepared for financial decisions

Irish Financial Literacy by Age 1

The moneysherpa survey shows that the 18-44 age group are over 20% less financially literate than the 45-64 age group.

This is crucial as it is at this stage many of life’s critical financial decisions are made. Financial mistakes made before 44 are quite literally compounded as the years roll by.

By the time we reach our peak financially at 45+, the decisions we have made on our pensions and mortgage may have set us on a path that it is hard to break from.

Dublin lags the rest of the country in financial literacy

Literacy by Region 1

Generally financial literacy falls in line with economic development. As Ireland’s economic powerhouse you might expect Dublin to lead the country in financial literacy.

In fact Dublin financial literacy is 5% lower than in the rest of the country.

In a region with higher income levels and house prices, low levels of financial literacy could have long term consequences.

Irish women bucking world wide financial literacy trend

Literacy by Gender 2

In countries rich and poor around the world financial literacy surveys have consistently shown women coming out around 15% lower than men in financial literacy.

This is usually attributed to cultural factors or access to education, reducing both financial confidence and knowledge.

Interestingly the Irish survey data shows women leading men in financial literacy by 15%. Turning the trend seen elsewhere completely on its head.

Maybe Brehon Law has something to do with it…

Test your own financial literacy

At this point you may be wondering how you would score for financial savvy. Our quickfire 5 question quiz tests you for the same concepts used in the survey and S&P Finlit report, gives you a score and will point you in the right direction if you get any answers wrong!

Financial literacy quiz

Is it safer to put money into one business or many?


In a nutshell – Financial Literacy

Financial literacy in Ireland is almost 20% lower than in other Northern European countries and is particularly low in Irish men aged 18-44.

Only 55% of people in Ireland understand 3 out of the ‘big 4’ financial concepts. Almost 20% lower than in the UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands.

  • The 18-44 age group is 20% further behind the curve than older age groups
  • Dublin lags rest of the country for financial literacy
  • Unlike findings in most other countries Irish women are 15% ahead of men when it comes to financial savvy

If you want to learn more about how to manage your finances check out our six steps to money zen guide here.

If you are after saving tips you can go here or use our calculators to help save with mortgages and more here.

Survey Methodology

The moneysherpa financial literacy survey was conducted over 3 days from April 30th 2021. Using a statistically valid sample, weighted to align with Irish demographic data. The questions were based on the 2015 S&P finlit survey and various OECD reports. Irish data is given as comparative across segments only to allow for differences in data collection across the various finlit data sources used.

How to buy shares in Ireland and maximise your returns – Ireland 2021

how to buy shares ireland
how to buy shares ireland

In our ultimate guide to how to buy shares in Ireland and what shares to buy, we will take you through the basics of what a share is, how to choose which shares are good value and how to buy them. Buying shares in Ireland is almost certainly easier than you think, you can use an Irish financial advisor/broker or through an international online broker.

A share is simply a slice of ownership in a company. Read on to see what this means for share prices.

The right shares to buy are obviously those that will grow in value. Based on fundamentals these should be shares that are cheaper than they should be right now when you forecast out their future profits.

In my view investors should always try to focus on company fundamentals when looking to invest in shares. Ignoring a company’s fundamentals is taking a shot in the dark and leaving everything up to chance, not an advisable strategy for your money.

Read on to see how you work out which shares to buy in Ireland right now.

What is a share anyway? How to buy shares in Ireland

How do I choose which shares to invest in? How to buy shares in Ireland

Which is based Fundamental or Momentum based investing? How to buy shares in Ireland

In a nutshell. How to buy shares in Ireland

Next steps. How to buy shares in Ireland

What is a share anyway? How to buy shares in Ireland

The ownership of a publicly traded company is thinly sliced into equal shares on the stock exchange to make them easier for investors to buy and sell, hence the name for this split in ownership – shares.

Traditionally, companies are priced by each individual share, which leads to the question of what the price of a single share tells investors about the value of a company? Absolutely nothing…

A single share does not tell you anything about the value of a company. Instead, it is the number of shares in the company multiplied by the price per share that gives you the total market value of the company, or the market capitalisation.

A company can be thinly or thickly sliced, but investors should only be concerned by the overall value of a company.

A rookie mistake is to compare one company share price to another, as both companies are likely to each have a different number of shares outstanding. Looking for cheap stocks is similar to comparing the size of two loafs of bread, simply by comparing a slice from each loaf, which would be a strange method for picking out which loaf or indeed company that you would like to own a “share” of.

So if you can’t use the price of a share alone to work out if it is good value what can you use?

Read on to find the key tactics that investors use, to zero in on shares that offer the highest potential for returns.

private pension

How do I choose which shares to invest in? How to buy shares in Ireland

There are two text book tactics that investors use to determine the underlying value of a share, Relative Valuation and Discounted Cash Flow. Here’s how they work and the pro’s and pitfalls of each.

Relative Valuation

Relative Valuation methods are quick and easy. They represent a straight forward way to compare a stock to its own historical price, other companies or to the price of the overall market.

Relative valuations indicate whether a company is over or undervalued, but they do not give a fair market value for the stock. There are two ways to do this relative comparison, Dividend Yield and the Price-to-Earnings Ratios.

Dividend Yield is the amount of money a company pays shareholders as a dividend, as a percentage of its current stock price. The lower the dividend yield, the more expensive the stock.

Yields also depend on the industry the firms in or how mature the company is. Growth companies often decide not to pay any dividends, as the money is instead reinvested into the company to fuel growth. Indeed five of the seven largest S&P 500 members currently do not pay any dividends at all.

Price-to-Earnings (P/E) ratio is the other main relative valuation metric, which depicts a company’s value in terms of its earnings, allowing investors to compare companies of all different types and sizes. Simply put, the higher the P/E ratio, the more expensive the stock.

Determining a fair P/E ratio hinges on how fast you think a company’s earnings will grow. A fast-growing company will warrant a higher P/E ratio, as opposed to a company in decline.

An extreme recent example would be the high premium that investors are currently willing to pay for Tesla, which currently has with a P/E ratio of 998, compared to General Motors modest P/E ratio of 13.

Although you may hear Dividend Yield and P/E ratio bandied about by some on the internet and in social media. These relative valuation tactics are very blunt instruments.

Those looking for something more tethered to the underlying value of the shares often reach for some something known as the discounted cash flow model.

Discounted Cash Flow

The discounted cash flow model involves estimating the future earnings of the firm and then calculating how much the future earnings are worth today. The estimates of the company’s future earnings are discounted because of the uncertainty of the future.

Simply put, investors are willing to trade the promise of a larger sum tomorrow, for the certainty of a smaller sum today. The total value of the firm is equal to the discounted value of the company’s future earnings under this model.

The amount you discount the earnings is the combination of what an investor would be guaranteed by putting their money in a risk free investment (usually the current yield on a US 10-year government bond) plus a risk premium that is based on how probable the future returns are.

The future earnings plus the discount equals the total value of the firm (enterprise value). You then take away the balance if what the company owes in it’s accounts to get the company’s total value.

(Value = Enterprise value – Debt + Cash)

Dividing the total value of the company by the number of shares produces a value for one share. Using this logic, if you can buy the share cheaper than the calculated value it’s a good investment.

This approach provides a direct relationship between the value of a company’s share and its fundamental measure of success, its future earnings.

Momentum plays Fundamentals. How to buy shares in Ireland

Both absolute and relative valuation models rely heavily on the company’s earnings. Indeed how much should a company be worth if it does not have solid earnings? This approach is often called value or fundamental based investing, most famously used by Warren Buffet, the billionaire ‘sage of Omaha’.

In my view investors should always try to focus on company fundamentals when looking to invest in shares. Ignoring a company’s fundamentals is comparable to taking a shot in the dark that leaves everything up to chance, which is clearly not an advisable strategy when looking to invest.

In a nutshell. How to buy shares in Ireland

There are many ways for investors to buy shares in Ireland. It is possible to buy shares directly through one of the online brokerages operating in Ireland, such as DEGIRO or eToro. “Robo advisors” have also increased in popularity, as the digital advice provided requires with little human input.

Speaking to a dependable financial advisor still remains the most advisable approach to investing in stocks. Reviewing your finances with a financial advisor will allow you to see how investing in stocks can help you to achieve your financial goals.

Next steps

You can read our more investing in Ireland analysis here.

You can check out our other guides on Investing in Ireland here.

You can find out where to get individual investing in Ireland and financial advice in your area here.

Reddit Investing – In Manic Markets, Pied Pipers Call The Tune

wallstreetbets

Of all the take-aways to be gleaned from the recent Reddit Investing GameStop debacle, perhaps the most salient is that, in these increasingly exuberant financial markets awash with excess liquidity, flows threaten to dominate fundamentals in the accelerated pursuit of investment returns.

This seems especially so in markets now “democratised” by a newly empowered retail investor class, emboldened in its beliefs by those “disruptive” provocations of a select coterie of visionary (nay, cult-like) cheer-leaders.

Populist forces – the rise of Reddit investing

It was only a matter of time before the populist forces wreaking havoc across political and economic landscapes in the social media age turned their ire towards financial markets. Indeed, if there is a surprise, it is that it has taken so long to manifest.

The Occupy Wall Street protests stem from 2011, and perceived inequalities between Wall and Main Streets have deepened all the more acutely in the interim.

Doubtless stock markets were protected from disruption by higher barriers to entry; whereas seismic political change was deliverable via well-orchestrated Twitter accounts and hashtag campaigns (think Five Star in Italy), stock market upheavals required finance – lots of it – and presumably no little dollop of expertise.

Reddit Investing
NEW YORK CITY-MAY 2012: Occupy Wall street demonstrators march down Broadway toward lower Manhattan.

Those barriers to entry have come crashing down in the Age of Covid, with the greatest explosion in retail trading activity since the dying days of the Dot-Com bubble.

A vast army of primarily youthful investors have emerged with spare cash (support payments), spare time (lockdown) and pre-disposed gambling mindsets.

They have been drawn in their millions to online trading apps such as Robinhood, whose onscreen trappings “gamify” the investment experience, and whose product offerings of zero commissions, fractional share purchases and cheap leverage are nobly designed to “democratise finance for all”.

In so doing, Robinhood provides its 13m merry men a platform and Reddit investing a collective from which to disrupt a financial system perceived to have disregarded them for years.

This new retail buying frenzy has been broadly confined to a relatively narrow clutch of stocks (especially in high-risk tech names) that resonate with their own lifestyle experiences and aspirations, and with scant regard for standard valuation metrics when set against the simple conviction that investments are going up (eg Tesla, Bitcoin).

The Reddit investors engage in “meme investing” discussions in online chat rooms such as Reddit-Wallstreetbets (8.9m members or “degenerates”), whilst paying fervent homage to such evangelical innovators as Elon Musk, Chamath Palihapitiya and Cathie Wood, all three idolised as “disruptive” bedfellows in their anti-establishment crusade.

Reddit Investing – the Pied piper-in-chief

Redit investing
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Washington DC USA. 21 Of January 2021

These innovators, in turn, have long understood the untapped potential for retail investor flows in the digital age, and have positioned themselves to co-opt it.

Reddit investing Pied Piper-in-chief Elon Musk’s successful pledge to “burn” short sellers of Tesla stock was aided and abetted by a tsunami of retail buying last year.

Palihapitiya, who has brought serial SPAC issuance to an art form, furnishes simplified one-pagers on each investment thesis for speedy online dissemination, whilst Wood’s Ark Investment Management, whose disruptive-technology funds are now the hottest ETFs in town, freely distributes its research and daily trading activities so that social media may tag along.

Small wonder that both Musk and Palihapitiya were quick to publicly align themselves (in tweets and deeds) with Reddit’s GameStop insurrection. Small wonder too that all three are table-thumping devotees of Tesla, and Bitcoin.

For these investors, and their legions of acolytes, price advances are no longer self-limiting in the manner traditional securities analysis might dictate. Rather, it is the intoxicating allure of “disruptive” narratives, whereby bountiful cash-flows are predicted well into the future, that proffer “present value” support to elevated asset prices, a fortiori when discounted by historically debased interest rates.

Freed from the shackles of present-day realities, flow dynamics duly dominate in a self-feeding speculation that begets ever rising prices. In such environment, a barely profitable Tesla may sport its trailing P/E multiple of 1091x as a veritable badge of honour.

Although Reddit investor’s YOLO (You Only Live Once) army happily ignores valuation arguments in its pursuit of gains, institutional investors are naturally more conditioned by fundamental approaches to stock or market selection.

This discipline has been slowly eroding, however, thanks to those “disruptive” influences of passive index-investing and algorithmic trading. Now, in the midst of buoyant stock markets, the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) factor is also staking its claim, with fund managers eschewing potential career-ending decisions to avoid expensive high-flyers and selling their souls to the momentum trade.

To cap it all, Elon Musk’s latest decision to place $1.5bn of Tesla cash in Bitcoin has united two speculative manias in a potentially virtuous circle to add fuel to the fire of both, with Tesla’s market gains from barely 5 weeks of Bitcoin “HODLing” exceeding its lifetime profits in EV manufacturing.

Note that Tesla’s $19bn cash balances at end-2020 were substantially the result of equity fund-raising into a frenzied share-price rally. Such effective exchange of Tesla currency (ie equity) for Bitcoin crypto currency has all the hallmarks of a Faustian pact designed to self-feed investor exuberance to euphoric extremes.

Don’t fight the Fed – Reddit & Gamestop fall to earth

Presiding over such market froth is the Federal Reserve who, along with all the other major central banks have, through their own price-insensitive asset-purchase programmes for several years past, distorted all “fair value” considerations for bond and equity investments.

These policymakers continue to naysay any suggestions that current liquidity excesses and attendant “financial repression” pose financial instability risks. Their position remains that, should policy ultimately stoke irrationally exuberant markets, they retain an arsenal of macro-prudential tools with which to lean against the tide.

Investors won’t hold their breath. Margin requirements are unchanged in the United States since 1974, whilst all Fed Chairman from Greenspan onwards have revealed preferences to clean up the aftermath of any asset bubble rather than attempt to prick them beforehand.

With forward guidance on zero policy rates now extended to 2023 and beyond, the “punch bowl” which currently fuels financial market froth is not being taken away any time soon.

shutterstock 431865355
WASHINGTON, DC, USA – FEBRUARY 16, 2005: U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testifies before Congress.

Of course elevated valuations can simply collapse under the force of their own weight, be it at an individual stock or broader market level. This was the entirely predictable fate that befell GameStop’s Icarus-like flight of fancy, whereas the end-game for other popular speculations may ultimately chart a less predictable course.

Be reminded, therefore, of Charles Mackay’s 1841 observation (regarding the Madness of Crowds) that “whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first”.

For those Reddit investing bettors, such history rhymes; their Game has restarted, with a short-squeezing of cannabis stocks just the latest trip to get high on!

What next? – Further investing in Ireland insights

You can read our Feb 2021 investing in Ireland analysis here.

You can check out our other guides on Investing in Ireland here.

You can find out where to get individual investing in Ireland and financial advice in your area here.

Tesla, shares to invest in now for Irish investors

shares to invest in now for Irish Investors
shares to invest in now for Irish Investors
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Washington DC USA. 21 Of January 2021

Are Tesla good shares to invest in now for Irish investors? How safe and efficient is your investment vehicle? The share price had increased dramatically in late 2019, up until the market wide rout caused by COVID-19, but its trajectory since then has been difficult to fathom.

Investor exuberance is now tethering on the absurd, as retail investors continue to pile into the stock as “there is no price too high”. Routine stock splits and CEO Tweets seem to continually add fuel to a raging fire, while its inclusion in the S&P500 index in late 2020 has resulted in overpriced share purchases for passive ETF funds that track the S&P500, ironically forcing otherwise risk-averse investors to become part of this speculative journey.

It is easy to be envious of Tesla shareholders, as countless momentum stock chasers search for returns. There has been a significant increase in retail investors over the past year, as online trading apps offering zero commissions, cheap leverage and fractional share purchases, have reduced the barriers of entry, but history shows that chasing the hot share to invest in now is a risky business.

COVID-19 has been the perfect storm for Tesla, as the virus has also supported the increased levels of retail investor participation, most of which appear to be extremely bullish on Tesla. It’s shares quickly regained any lost ground once the “sell everything” frenzy bottomed out. At the height of the market sell off, oil futures contracts even entered negative territory, as producers had to pay buyers to take the commodity off their hands over fears that storage capacity could run out.

Some analysts even predicted the beginning of the end for the fossil fuel, as the shift to alternate energy sources gathered momentum. Tesla is loved by the market today because it is the industry leader in electric vehicles (EV). No other company can currently match its capacity, and the growth of EVs has captured the market’s imagination. But are they good shares to invest in now for Irish investors and why has its price increased by so much?

Why have Tesla shares risen so much?

A stock price is essentially determined by the supply and demand for the stock; as demand for a stock increases, its price will therefore increase. Efficient market theory suggests that a company’s share price reflects all information and it is equal to the firm’s intrinsic value (a measure of what a company or asset is actually worth). In reality a company’s share price often deviates from the actual value of the firm, and this is where investors seek to add alpha (beat the market).

The measure of intrinsic value is often arrived at through in-depth fundamental analysis and complex financial models. A company’s future earnings play a vital role in an such valuation analysis, and the growth potential of a company’s earnings often justify very lofty valuations. Investors are willing to pay a high premium for a stake in a company with significant growth prospects.

Investors had to pay a very high premium for the likes Amazon, Facebook and Apple when they first listed, but history has shown that such a premium was more than justified, as they have both gone on to revolutionise the way we communicate, socialise and shop, becoming some of the most dominant firms in the world in the process.

Expensive growth stocks can grow into their valuations and Tesla bulls argue it’s a good share to invest in now as the company is a disruption to the automotive industry and it is an innovative tech firm, like a new Apple, that merits a Silicon Valley valuation. The company’s technological advancements include battery technology, over the air software updates and autopilot functionality, which the company hopes will become “Full Self Driving”. Investors are betting that Tesla will dominate car sales in the future.

This bet is based on a VERY BIG assumption that other car manufacturers will not be able to compete with Tesla’s technologies in the future. Recent rumours of Apple approaching Nissan highlight the potential for other car manufacturers to compete in the autonomous self-driving space.

Whatever the argument and justification for whether Tesla’s shares are a good share to invest in now, the company is already priced for future market dominance, even though it’s impossible to assess the company’s long-term earnings prospects. Putting all this into context, the chart below depicts Tesla’s valuation against the nine other largest car manufacturing firms in the world. This image shows how Tesla is now more valuable than the nine other firms put together.

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Top ten car manufacturers by valuation – Bloomberg 12/02

This breath-taking statistic is made all the more astonishing as Tesla only posted an annual profit for the first time in 2020. Tesla makes up less than 1% of total current global vehicle sales, and the company’s earnings, as a portion of the 10 largest automakers earnings is less than 2%:

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Ten largest car manufacturer earnings – Bloomberg 12/02

Are Tesla good shares to invest in now?

Buy low and sell high… the age-old adage for successful investing. Even though this makes sense logically, this is not the type of behaviour investors tend to demonstrate. Humans tend to get attracted to a stock or asset as its price increases (value decreases), and then race to purchase it in fear of missing out on an opportunity (FOMO).

This FOMO cycle feeds upon itself as more and more people race to pick up the stock, and the asset seems to become more attractive the higher its price goes. This action can lead to a manic sense of euphoria for the asset and it can cause investors to forget reasoned logic and ignore traditional fundamentals such as projected earnings and relative valuation metrics.

Tesla is certainly one of the FOMO stocks, like the FAAMG five (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft & Google), as it boasts a whopping trailing Price-to-earnings ratio (P/E ratio) of 1091. This doesn’t seem to faze investors, although a P/E above 40 is traditionally considered very high. (P/E ratio is a relative valuation metric that depicts a company’s value in terms of its earnings, allowing investors to compare companies of all different types and sizes)

Although the FAAMG five are supremely well-run with lots of cash flow and great balance-sheets, I am not so sure that the same can be said about Tesla, as the CEO’s erratic behaviour has become the norm. So are they good shares to invest in now?

So is Tesla shares to invest in now for Irish Investors? The upshot

Investors should really be asking what exactly has changed since Elon Musk Tweeted that the “stock price too high” in May 2020, as it has increased by over 480% since. As the mania develops, it has become increasingly difficult to argue with profitable investors. Reasoned logic would have recommended such investors to sell the company shares and take profit long before now. Had they done so; they would have missed out on the run of a lifetime.

The lives of the “Teslanaires” army have changed forever, and who can argue with that. Yet I would like to point to the fact that there are always winners and losers in such speculative bubbles. Nobody has ever lost money by selling too early. The age-old phenomenon of speculative manias is mainly driven by the greater fool theory. This theory suggests buying an overvalued asset, in the hope of selling it at a profit at a later date. The justification for purchasing the overpriced asset is based on the premise that there will be someone else who is willing to pay a higher price, i.e. the Greater Fool!

Investors need to maintain a clear distinction between speculative trades and long-term financial investments. The segregation of each needs to remain intact, as both represent a different set of goals and associated risks.

Long term investments have the capacity to earn risk-adjusted returns that can help individuals achieve their financial goals. This can be achieved through a well-balanced portfolio allocation that is focused on long term plays. Investor psychology is paramount to successful investing and we must pay attention and have the courage to avoid doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.

The fundamental philosophy of long-term investing needs to be maintained, and the proportion of an investment portfolio that an investor should be committing to these speculative assets is very small, so Tesla may be good shares to invest in now for Irish investors, but only in small quantities. Particularly when looking to embark on a safe and efficient investment journey.

What next? – Further share to invest in now insights

You can read our Feb 2021 investing in Ireland analysis here.

You can check out our other guides on Investing in Ireland here.

You can find out where to get individual investing in Ireland and financial advice in your area here.

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