Jeremy Grantham Favors High Quality US Stocks: Market Commentary ~ market folly

Monday, August 2, 2010

Jeremy Grantham Favors High Quality US Stocks: Market Commentary

Today we're doing a bit of 'market-strategy-Monday' here on Market Folly and will kick things off with the often-read missive of GMO's Jeremy Grantham. He is now a deflationista as he thinks it has trumped inflation as the biggest concern in the near-term. While Grantham doesn't seem too anxious to be a buyer of many asset classes, there are three areas he has deemed compelling. GMO's asset allocation portfolios are built on a seven-year forecast and here are his thoughts:

Firstly, Grantham sees value in high quality large cap US companies. The main argument? Valuation. Just last week, we highlighted hedge fund T2 Partners' bullish presentation on 3 large cap stocks. The 'buy high quality large cap' theme has been long underway in hedge fund land as a plethora of managers have now sung the praises of this opportunity. Pershing Square's Bill Ackman went long Kraft (KFT) on this notion (among other reasons) and East Coast Asset Management likes quality names as well. Grantham's GMO colleague Edward Chancellor echoes these thoughts. He says,

"When we look through the various classes of equities, we find in the U.S. that companies that are so-called quality have high expected returns relative to the market; in other words, companies that tend not to go bust, and tend to maintain their positions—the sorts of businesses that Warren Buffett made his fortune investing in and are trading at a P/E of about 14. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Pfizer (PFE) are key companies—the sort that your grandmother had in her portfolio or are typically owned by trust companies. Normally they trade at premiums to market, but right now they’re not."

Chancellor also sees opportunities in the European high quality equivalent. In particular, he mentions Nestle (NSRGY), Novartis (NVS), and Unilever (UN). Last week we also pointed out how hedge fund Viking Global has a large stake in Unilever as well.

Secondly, Grantham believes that emerging market equities are the next best play. This is mainly attributable to the fact that the fundamentals in these countries are so much better than our own markets. While EAGE equities are slightly expensive, they are a much better option than say, fixed income.

Lastly, Grantham remains staunch on his view of forestry (i.e. timber). He has long advocated a place in portfolios for timber as it serves as a good diversification tool during the good times. And, during periods of uncertainty, it is a "brilliant store of value should inflation unexpectedly run away, and a historically excellent defensive investment should the economy unravel."

Embedded below is Jeremy Grantham's latest market commentary from GMO:

You can download a .pdf copy here.

For more excellent commentary be sure to head to the latest hedge fund letters where prominent managers share their thoughts on the markets.

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