Emerging Asia: Lower expectations, outsized opportunities

-- | 11/12/2018

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Glenn Freeman: I'm talking today to Bryce Anderson from Morningstar Investment Management.

Within the equity space, you've spoken about where you see opportunities, particularly within that emerging market space. Now we hear a lot about emerging markets as kind of a homogenous zone. But like you were saying to me earlier that there's really a specific country and the specific characteristics within each of those, it's not just one area that can be that easily defined, is it?

Bryce Anderson: Yes, sure. I think broadly emerging markets to us look attractive, but I think like, developed market equities, you got to look beneath the bonnet to find their specific markets and opportunities within emerging markets. So, not everything in emerging markets is created equally. So, I think specifically for us, where the recent volatility is brought up, particular opportunities is within emerging markets, within Asia. So, with all the news around trade wars, its brought up volatility in countries like Korea, Taiwan, certain aspects of China. And I think that's just broadly where we've been allocating capital in this recent volatility, increasing our position that we have had a preference for for some time.

Freeman: And in terms of some of those markets, that you mentioned, I think Japan is another one that you're quite constructive on at the moment. And what sectors within Japan and within Taiwan, are you looking at?

Anderson: So, I think first thing is valuation, so in a world where global equity markets are reasonably expensive. You'd say that Japan's probably trading on a reasonably fair multiple, which in the current environment is pretty good. And I think one thing Japan has gone through and is going through is structural change around actually running companies for the benefit of shareholders, rather than other interests. So, things like, we see things like profitability in Japan increasing, payouts by company is increasing. And we think that is slowly filtering through to the company level and we think that you'd generate some good returns in Japan over the long-term.

Freeman: How does it, sort of, compare and contrast with say China, which is is something on everyone's radar and it's being spoken about a lot. One of the things that sort of strikes me about China is that there's still quite amount of opacity there – it's hard to actually get a read on things whereas – does Japan have that same sort of challenge or …?

Anderson: Yes, I think, it's changing and it's changing quite a lot. So, in Japan, I think with some of these corporate governance changes that are happening. So, it sounds strange, but like actual company reports are being actually issued in English, whereas previously they're only being issued in Japanese. And slowly but surely, they're being more and more managed for the shareholder rather than stakeholders within those companies.

Freeman: Some of those other Asian countries that you mentioned, Taiwan and Korea, what sort of sectors that are also in financials that you are looking there or is it in other sectors?

Anderson: So, I think in the case of Korea and probably Taiwan, it's probably the IT part of the market. And, if you call out something in Korea like Samsung; so, Samsung is probably – it's quite an attractively valued company as opposed to some of the other IT names that you look at in the U.S. is trading at quite an attractive. Multiple expectations are reasonably low. So, Korea in an area of the market we think looks attractive.

Freeman: And in Taiwan, is that also IT?

Anderson: Yes. I think it's partly IT and partly other aspects of the market, but yes, generally both of those countries are dominated by IT companies.

Freeman: You mentioned in the Japanese market that financials is an area, that's quite appealing. What are some of the characteristics that might get attractive?

Anderson: Yes. I think for Japanese financials, this is a sector that has gone through an enormous deleveraging and the economy has gone through a huge deleveraging in Japan. And with Abenomics, interest rates are incredibly low, but with that I think expectations for Japanese financial companies are extremely low. So, we think that that's an area of the market that looks particularly attractive, not because we think that it's going to really shoot the lots out in terms of earnings growth; it's just that the expectations for those companies are just extremely low and are sort of tied with the brush of the banking crisis that happened in the 1990s within Japan.

Freeman: I guess, it kind of gets overshadowed a little by the Asian dragon, by China and by some of the other news coming out of Asia that people don't possibly look at Japan as closely as they possibly should?

Anderson: Yes, I think you are right. Investing is all about expectations and we think that expectations in Japan and within financials are incredibly low.

This report appeared on www.morningstar.com.au 2022 Morningstar Australasia Pty Limited

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