Eq: Large Cap

(New York)

Something the market has not had to deal with for some time is once again occurring. That change? Slumping buybacks. Hiked dividends and big buybacks have been staples of the this historic bull run, but the latter are starting drying up. Share repurchases shrank for the first time in seven quarters in the second quarter. The total amount of buybacks—over $200 bn—is still quite robust, but it is a sign that companies are tightening up, which could be indicative of the overall direction of the economy.


FINSUM: This is immaterial. In 2018, companies spent $800 bn on buybacks, so $205.8 bn (the 2nd quarter’s figure) is actually ahead of pace.

(New York)

Dividend stocks have been an interesting case over the last few quarters. In the fourth quarter, when interest rates looked to be headed higher, they actually outperformed the market (counterintuitively). This year, as rates look to be headed lower, they have performed quite well (up 16%), but still lagged a bit behind the S&P 500. The question is where they go from here, and all signs point to higher given the prevailing rates environment and general anxiety. The trick is buying the right ones, as financials and healthcare offer better value than more traditional areas like utilities, real estate, and consumer staples.


FINSUM: We think these are good sector selections as they have not seen as much price inflation as the more common dividend choices. Healthcare seems particularly interesting given that it is quite recession-resistant.

(New York)

The dovishness from the Fed has been bullish for most of the debt market, with sovereign yields falling and corporate debt getting a boost. However, the riskiest corner of the market, triple C junk bonds, have been left out, with the group falling by 1.5% since May. Triple B bonds, by comparison, were up. The odd part about the losses is that signs of an interest rate cut are usually very bullish for junk bonds because they would mean lower interest burdens for the companies. That said, anxiety about the economy is high enough that such benefits were negated.


FINSUM: This whole situation makes sense in that the downside risk of a sinking economy is greater than the upside of lower interest rates for this subsector. Thus, the bonds are losing. In other parts of the credit spectrum, the risk-reward balance is different.

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