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vendredi 19 novembre 2010

Y a t-il une bulle sur les marchés émergents ?

Voici l'avis du gérant du fonds Skagen Kon-Tiki, fonds présent dans le portefeuille.

We believe it is increasingly important to be selective in making choices at a company level and not a macro level, writes Kristoffer Stensrud in a guest commentary in Norwegian financial daily, Dagens Næringsliv.

Most people seemed to think US Central Bank Governor Ben Bernanke’s “QE II” was either a cruise ship or else another injection of money into the US economy.

Light wins the day
We turn our thoughts to Diwali, the Festival of Lights, where light conquers darkness, good triumphs over evil and truth defeats lies. Timing-wise the festival of lights this year kicked off after Bernanke has announced his bond package, the congressional election is over and a hoard of key financial indicators has been devoured by the above-mentioned portfolio managers. In other words, it was a colourful start to a dark November month.

As active, value based managers in the global emerging markets we have enjoyed a long period of both warmth and light. So good in fact that many of us are starting to wonder if we are in danger of experiencing an eclipse. And whether the valuations of emerging market companies are starting to become slightly inflated.

Admittedly many individual markets and countries have experienced pretty good returns, both in the short and long term. But the fact that something goes up a lot does not necessarily mean that the price is high. An extremely low starting price (November 2008) and strong growth in both earnings and return on equity can justify the nice share price increases in a number of companies. And then some.

Important to be selective
But it is increasingly important to be selective at the company level rather than at the macro level. We continue to find companies in emerging markets with very good return potential, even at today’s “high” valuation levels.

It is, however, not difficult to find companies that we believe are overpriced. As an example, consumer-oriented Chinese companies are trading at 20-30 times next year’s earnings. The same phenomenon is apparent in all the BRIC countries. We have not seen such overvalued companies in the emerging markets since the early 90s when these markets inflated to a bubble which popped in 1994.

There is obviously a lot of hot money being spent in looking for the next global growth area or “theme”. It is reassuring however that the large, safe havens for investors such as Petrobras, Samsung Electronics, Gazprom – indeed larger companies in the emerging markets in general – are still trading at multiples much lower than the historical average.

Hard to generalise
Based on local interest rate calculations they are not all selling at bargain prices. But seen in a historical context, and given the strong development in both performance and return on equity, we find it hard to support the claim that emerging markets as a whole are about to become a bubble. A price of just over two times book value is not prohibitive. At the peak in 2007, the price was 3.5 times equity. It is also significant that the reliance on the so-called industrialised world has been less than feared. The internal dynamics within the emerging markets continue to improve.

In our opinion, therefore, the glass is still half full, not half empty. The Festival of Lights, Diwali, was a good opportunity to observe how the light in the world is still switched on. And a good time to separate truth from falsehood, right from wrong.

(Kristoffer Stensrud - - 17/11/10)

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