Just before the launch of the new suite of iPhones and other Apple products last week, things were looking bleak for the company. There was remarkably little pre-launch excitement and it seemed like this was going to be a rather boring round of updates for the iPhone. However, initial sales momentum is looking strong and could bode well for the company. There are also some one-off factors that could make Apple’s stock pop. According to Evercore, “We think there is inherent upside to Sept-qtr EPS given AAPL isn’t staggering their launches but announcing all the three products simultaneously … This we think will have a positive impact to revenues and EPS in the sept-qtr, though depending on the reception of these products it may be more of a pulling in of revenues from Dec-qtr”.
FINSUM: The iPhone 11 is a little more differentiated than everyone thought, and it seems to have sparked more interest than expected. This may be a less gloomy replacement cycle than expected.
It has been a decade in the making, but it finally, unceremoniously, happened. The AUM in passive investment vehicles, like ETFs, has finally overtaken that in actively managed ones, like mutual funds. As of August 31, money in passive funds totaled $4.27 tn, just a touch higher than the $4.25 tn in actively-managed funds. In a good summary of the overall change in landscape, the Wall Street Journal says “That shift lowered the price of investing for individuals, reduced the influence of stock pickers and turned a handful of Wall Street outsiders into the biggest power brokers in the industry”.
FINSUM: Every advisor reading this column knows exactly why this happened, but it is nonetheless a landmark moment. It is also perhaps a warning sign—which side is driving the market?
It feels like a complete repeat of the DOL’s fiduciary rule. With less than a year to go until implementation (June 2020), the SEC’s new Regulation Best Interest has just entered legal limbo. Perhaps even more worrying than the recent lawsuit from seven states is the fact that leading industry figure Michael Kitces’ firm, XY Planning Network, has just sued the SEC in New York to help block the rule. Kitces is trying to build on the FPA’s legacy of defeating regulators, such as it did in 2005 with the “Merrill Lynch rule”. It is highly unclear what the ultimate outcome of these suits might be, which means brokerages are having trouble committing resources to comply with them.
FINSUM: The chances that this rule gets implemented in its current form seem small, which means it that it is unwise to invest too much into compliance at this point. Everyone still has a bad taste from the money spent complying with the defunct DOL fiduciary rule.
For some reason, there is a great deal of glee about the return of value stocks this month. Even though we are only on the 17th day of September, seemingly ever research department on Wall Street is ready to proclaim that value stocks are back. BAML fits the bill perfectly, saying that value stocks are like a tightly wound spring that is finally uncoiling. In their defense, value stocks have outperformed growth stocks by 9 percentage points this month, the biggest divergence since 2010. Morgan Stanley also notes that there is currently “a massive rotation away from growth-style factors toward value-style”.
FINSUM: It has been a great start to the autumn for value stocks, but they have been in a funk so long that it is hard to believe they have suddenly shed their shackles.
If you have been investing in REITs over the last few years, one of the key driving mantras has been the idea that one should move away from brick and mortar-oriented retail REITs and toward those that are more ecommerce-focused. In other words, buy REITs focused on warehouses, not those on malls. However, that arithmetic might be changing, as the big boom in warehousing is now facing headwinds because of the trade war. Recently was the first time in years that “the market didn’t lease to its full potential”, said a trade group in the space. The sector is “uniquely exposed to trade activity and manufacturing activity, which are very much impacted by the tariffs”.
FINSUM: To us this seems more likely to prove a short-term headwind than a long-term issue given the driving force behind warehouse growth is not actually tied to any trade policy, but a broader change in consumption patterns.