Tag Archives: ECB stress test

Performance review October 2014 – Comment “Stress testing”

Performance October 2014

In October, the portfolio lost -0,8%. Compared to my benchmark (Eurostoxx50 (25%), Eurostoxx small 200 (25%), DAX (30%),MDAX (20%)) at -1,7%, this is an outperformance of +0,9%. YTD the score is +4,2% for the portfolio against -1,2% for the benchmark.

Positive contributors were Koc Holding (+9,7%), G. Perrier (+7,1%), Cranswick (+6,2%). Loosers were Draeger (-9,2%), Bouvet (-7,1%) and Miko (-5,8%).

Obviously, October was a relatively volatile month (more to that in the comment). However, in the worst days in mid October, the portfolio behaved as expected with a max. draw down of “only” 1/2 of the benchmark.

Portfolio transactions:

October was relatively quiet. Citizen’s Financial, my first US stock since a long time entered the portfolio as a “special situation”. In between I did a little “special situation” trade with Rhoen, netting me ~2% in the process.

The current portfolio can be seen at the usual place here.

Comment: “Stress testing”.

The first “Stress test” I want to refer to is the “comprehensive assesment of the financial health” of 120 major European banks by the ECB. The press feedback was quite predictable, mostly saying that it was only a first step and is not tough enough.

In my opinion, two important aspects have not been highlighted very often. First, I think the major achievement of this is to make all the different bank models comparable. In my opinion, this is a result which should not be underestimated. Everytime when some kind of international standard is released, all the local governments try to lobby as hard as they can for exceptions for their own players. The result then is basically a general standard with very few “teeth” and no one is able to compare the results. In this case, the ECB has been quite succesful to make the results comparable and even get the approval of all the regulators which I find is quite an achievement.

Additionally, for me it was quite surprising that some banks actually failed. I would have expected more like “ok, they failed based on 2013, but have restored their capital already” outcomes. So I was quite surprised that especially for some Italian banks, the situation became quite difficult (esp., BMPS and Banca Carige). In my opinion this indicates that the ECB will not be a “lame duck” regulator, which in the long run is good news for the Euro zone despite more short-term issues. Plus, as Draghi is alway accused of helping the “Club Med” countries, this outcome shows that this is not the case.

Overall, despite all the negative opinion about the Eurozone, my opinion this is a very important and constructive step to get the “financial plumbing” right within the Euro zone. If and when this leads to a revival is another question but personally I think that the public opinion is underestimating what is actually being achieved here.

The second but more personal stress test was clearly the sudden drop in equity markets in mid October. Especially for the US market, this was the biggest drop since 3 years or so. I guess for many investors this was quite “spooky” as there was no apparent reason. In my opinion, a potential reason for this kind of volatility is the fact that many people who are owning stocks now shouldn’t own stocks. Buying stocks because the dividend yield is higher than the yields on deposits sounds good at first, unless your shares suddenly drop 10% or more. Often such investors are called “weak hands” because they sell just because of a drop in the share. After the financial crisis, many “weak hands” stayed out of the market for quite some time but are now returning mostly because of the low-interest rates.

Normally I don’t give general investment advise, but here I make an exception. Two points of advise to investors:

1. Don’t buy stocks because of the dividend yield
2. Stress test yourself: If October made you nervous, or you can’t afford your stocks dropping 10%,20%,30% or more, then you maybe shouldn’t be in stocks at all

I have clearly no divine insight where the stock market will go in the future, however we should expect the ride to be quite bumpy.