BLUE QUADRANT CAPITAL MANAGEMENT BLOG
A Brexit Q&A with Blue Quadrant Capital Management
The so-called "Brexit" referendum is fast approaching, scheduled to take place on June 23. Do you have a view which way the vote will go and is it relevant for investors?
We don't have a firm view and we think more than likely the UK bookies probably offer the best indication of which way the vote will go! They suggest the "Remain" camp will prevail. If we had to make a call we would also suggest that Remain will prevail simply because a significant % of likely voters (around 10%) are still undecided and historical precedent suggests that undecided voters tend to opt for the status quo at the last minute. But it is very close.
SA Tourism and Hospitality Sector Show Positive Signs
The latest report from Statistics SA shows that the number of foreign arrivals into the country increased by 11.4% y/y to 1.56mn in January, with 1.441mn of these arrivals being classified as foreign visitors (up 11.1% y/y). Of the total number of foreign visitors, some 1,012,641 were classified as tourists or overnight visitors, increasing by 15.4% y/y in January. A further analysis of the data showed that foreign visitors from non-African destinations (overseas) increased by 16.2% y/y to 214,903 in January. The recent data shows a fairly robust recovery in inbound tourist arrivals following the slump in early 2015. The recovery, not unexpectedly, has likely been driven by the sharp depreciation of the currency in recent months as well as the relaxation of former strict visa rules.
What does the future hold for traditional banks?
The rise of new technologies has allowed for improved mobile connectivity, cloud computing and the 'Bitcoin' phenomenon. This has led to an increasingly negative narrative with regard to the future of existing traditional banks. Newer entrants into the financial services realm such as Paypal and Square are seen as potentially successful 'disruptors' of an industry facing increased scrutiny and regulatory zeal. Venture capital companies are clamoring to invest in new peer-to-peer lending schemes, with many seeing this as the future for lending into the next decade and beyond.
How stressed are South African households at present?
Despite the poor economic backdrop and the recent increase in interest rates, South African households generally still appear to be in reasonably healthy shape, particularly middle to high-income households. Elevated wage and salary growth and waning demand for credit have helped keep nominal growth in disposable incomes above the growth in household indebtedness since the last recession in 2008/9.
Oil Market Recovery In Site
The International Energy Association (IEA) has reported in its most recent monthly Oil Market Report (OMR) for February, that global oil supply declined by 180,000 barrels per day (b/d) in February to 96.5mn b/d. More notably, the IEA also said that preliminary data for February suggested that OECD commercial inventories had declined during the month, marking the first such decline in just over a year. Furthermore, the IEA said it expected total non-OPEC supply to decline by 750,000 b/d in 2016, mainly driven by a decline of 530,000 b/d in the US market, as marginal shale producers cut back heavily on capital investment in new drilling programs.
Emerging Market Corporate Bond Market
Where do the risks lie?The recent rise in corporate bond yields (widening in corporate bond spreads) has been one of the factors driving some of the recent negative sentiment towards global equity markets. The recent rise in bond yields, in part driven by a tightening in USD liquidity, has mainly been the result of the deteriorating global growth expectations and specifically earnings expectations in the energy and broader commodity sectors. As such, default risk or the perceived risk of default has risen markedly over the past six months and, in turn, leading to a general re-pricing of risk in the corporate bond market.
Chinese Private Sector Credit GrowthChinese private sector credit growth or loans extended by the Chinese financial system to businesses and households accelerated to 15.3% y/y in January from 14.3% y/y in December. This is the highest rate of credit growth recorded since early 2013 and provides another indication that a “hard landing” in the Chinese economy is an unlikely scenario for 2016.
The VW scandalWhat does it mean for diesel vehicles, platinum and South Africa? There exists the potential for modestly reduced platinum demand over 1-3 years if fewer small diesel vehicles are sold as platinum is a key component of the catalytic converter found in diesel vehicles.
Physical PlatinumWe have over the past six months built up a large position in the underlying physical platinum metal itself. The rationale is pretty simple, at current prices, almost the entire South African platinum industry is generating negative cash flows after taking capital expenditure into account, a situation which is clearly not sustainable. At some point, either the Rand will have to weaken substantially further or the actual dollar-denominated price of platinum will have to improve.