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  • With the pound and UK property prices falling, is now the perfect time to buy?

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  • UK: Research reveals almost all top buy to let yields are in areas close to universities

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  • UK rents rise 1.79% during Q2

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  • Buyers Return to U.K. Housing Market as Confidence Improves

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  • The UK's BTL market remains competitive despite wider financial climate

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  • UK: Property investment returns highest in university cities in north and Midlands

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  • Analysis predicts summer boost for UK house prices

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  • City Residential: Liverpool boosts build-to-rent opportunities

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  • The best cities for buying property outside London

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  • UK housing market showing resilience

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  • Majority of buy to let landlords in London see property as the best long term investment

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  • Average property prices in key UK cities up 2.1% year on year

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  • New research finds UK landlords are optimistic despite Brexit

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  • Flat-pack home? Ikea moves in on UK housing

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  • Rents in the UK up 1.3% in the 12 months to May 2019, latest index shows

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  • Is now the right time to buy property in London?

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  • Rents increased by an average of 2.6% in Britain in year to May 2019

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C

On The Threshold: Choosing stock markets over housing stocks makes investors laughing stocks



By Alessandro Pasetti, 16 July 2018.

It is a sign of the changing times: young people after a fast buck rather than wisely allocating their savings to traditional investments, such as property, are very much in vogue these days.  

(Source: Quotesville.net)

The Financial Times recently wrote that, according to market research, “three-quarters of British millennials would rather put their money in shares, bonds or bitcoin than property”. 

(Source: careerplanner.com)

That’s right: shares, bonds and bitcoin. 

Risks 

Trying to cherry-pick high-yielding investments is not for everyone.

It can be exhausting when it comes to equity and bond selection. And that is before one has factored in currency behaviour, from which, historically, is virtually impossible to draw any reliable prediction or conclusion, particularly on a relative performance basis against stocks, bonds and commodities.

(Source: This is Money UK)

If you go after equity risk, passive investing is a possible way forward, although there are benefits and risks worth considering, even more so now because several bond and stock markets around the world look fully priced, given interest rates, as well as other risks.

US stock market

Not only are these risky and, in many cases complex, assets but they also require a huge amount of time, skills, research, resources and knowledge. Because investing is all about doing the proper due diligence, as the Inveztments team advocates.

But let’s assume you remain unconvinced, and you really want to invest in the equity markets.

Let’s take a look at US stocks, which traditionally are the most liquid and hence one of the safest asset in terms of exit risk, worldwide. 

Below it’s the index’s performance since the current bull market began at the end of the first quarter 2009.

(Source: Yahoo Finance)

Here’s where we stand now, after testing an all-time high in January.

(Source: Yahoo Finance)

Throw in wild sings in volatility (VIX)…

(Source: Yahoo Finance)

… and while, in absolute terms, we must acknowledge a low-VIX environment, interest rates risk surely complicates things for capital appreciation and dividend growth prospects.

(Source: Yahoo Finance)

Isn’t this, too, one of the longest bull runs in the past 100 years of history?

(Source: CNBC)

Please also consider one key correlation that over the years has been mostly accurate in sending warning signs about what could be next for stocks.

DJIA + DJTA 

Never heard of them?

Throw into the mix the two US indexes, and the weakness of the DJTA could be scary, at least for those familiar with the basic concepts formulated in the Dow Theory.

(Source: Yahoo Finance)

For UK investors willing to bet on the FTSE 100 rather than property, one obvious risk stems from the currency, given that a weaker pound in the past year or so has boosted the index – but will this weakness last forever?

(Source: Yahoo Finance)

I doubt it, based on several macroeconomic indicators.

But think of equity risk as a value investor, and consider British American Tobacco (BATS). I recently talked to some very skilled investors, and many of them agreed that based on a number of factors, BATS (which offers a juicy forward yield of 5%, and which is typically defensive) was good value indeed between £40 and £45, after a large drop from its highs.

The fall of the gods: look at where it trades now.

(Source: Yahoo Finance)

Bad things can happen with equities, particularly over the short term, and you need to develop the best investment strategy that suits your risk profile to limit the losses.

Again, this is almost a full-time job also because, more broadly,  you must be familiar with other concepts: fundamentals (this involves reading financial statements to death) and trading multiples.

Trading multiples must often be adjusted based on core underling earnings and cash flows, and not even the easiest ratio of all (revenue/enterprise value per share) is reliable if you do not break down the growth rate between organic and inorganic sales, while volume/price mix considerations also affect what could be considered any reliable sales numbers.

Then there are also balance sheet considerations, mainly involving the seniority of different securities in the capital structure of any company. If you end up there, you should be familiar with a slew of technical concepts both concerning debt and equity capital which always affect the earnings power of a corporation of which you plan to become a shareholder and/or a bondholder.

Finally, there is also accounting risk, as many companies are used to hiding away as much as they can from their books.

Bonds  

You think the bond market is safer?

Managing This ETF Is Like Solving a $55 Billion Rubik’s Cube” Bloomberg wrote earlier this year.

In the early days of interest rates hikes in the US, more solid bonds rose thanks to the “Trump put” but since topping out two years ago, capital appreciation opportunities have been rare, and have been only for the brave institutional traders, given yield trends.

(Source: Yahoo Finance)

Say you want to be selective and search for additional yield (more risk, essentially, based on a lower credit rating), and you are keen to trade the yield curve of Italy’s debt. Look at what could have happened to your savings if you had bought the long end of the curve at the top of the market in recent years – you’d be down about 25%.

(Source: Borsa Italiana)

In all these risk/reward considerations, investors should keep in mind the typically inverse correlation between prices and yields, which is not often immediately obvious to beginners.

Moreover, sovereign credit risk (pictured below), geopolitical risk and monetary risk all blend into fixed-income securities, which seldom behave erratically.

(Source: Trading Economics)

However, given low rates, bond price trends in the past few years have been less predictable. And now, in a rising rates environment, where the European Central Bank could become more hawkish as early as next year, capital gain opportunities appear more limited.

Currency risk is there, too, for investors looking to bet on the Pound, but as we have said at times on this platform, the £/€ exchange rate trades well below mean. So, while some downside is possible, the upside potential is much greater.

Finally, to know more about Bitcoin and the risks surrounding its investment profile, we invite you to read our previous coverage here: good luck if you are invested at over $10,000 apiece.

Conclusion 

We have often highlighted the risk/reward profile of the UK property market, and we remain adamant this is a far superior asset class for investors who do not have the time to chase financial market developments. After all, the intricacies of diverse assets classes… are they worth the pain?

Alan Collett, chairman and fund manager of Hearthstone Investments, summed it up pretty well recently, as we pointed out last week on the wall of Inveztments.com Italia.

Residential property offers an important diversification opportunity for both capital and income risk. As an asset class, residential property shows low correlation with UK equities, fixed interest and cash over the medium to long term, through a combination of lower volatility and different underlying drivers – and also provides a diversified stream of income compared with traditional sources such as bonds or dividends.”

I could have not said it better.

(This post was written by Alessandro Pasetti. Ale is the founder of Hedging Beta Ltd. He writes about investment strategy and assets valuation for European clients as well as Seeking Alpha, The Loadstar, Transport Intelligence and others. Based in London, he previously worked for about five years at Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal, producing analysis for the IB community. Prior to that, he contributed to the launch of London-based Loan Radar, where he worked for three years. He had stints in equity research at Bear Stearns in London, HVB in Munich, and Unicredit in Milan.

It was edited by Gavin van Marle, managing editor of London-based The Loadstar. Gavin is also the author of the book Around the World in Freighty Ways: Adventures in Globalisation. He has won numerous awards, including the Seahorse Journalist of the Year 2011 and 2009, and Supply Chain Journalist of the Year 2010 and 2014.)