In this morning’s report David Rosenberg cited the non-existent inflation trend in recent years. Rosenberg is of course very negative about the economy, but does provide some excellent thoughts on how to play the current environment. Attached are his 7 tips for a deflationary environment:
1. Focus on safe yield: High-quality corporates (non-cyclical, high cash reserves, minimal refinancing needs). Corporate balance sheets are in very good shape.
2. Equities: focus on reliable dividend growth/yield; preferred shares (“income” orientation). Starbucks just caught on to the importance of paying out a dividend.
3. Whether it be credit or equities, focus on companies with low debt/equity ratios and high liquid asset ratios – balance sheet quality is even more important than usual. Avoid highly leveraged companies.
4. Even hard assets that provide an income stream work well in a deflationary environment (ie, oil and gas royalties, REITs, etc…).
5. Focus on sectors or companies with these micro characteristics: low fixed costs, high variable cost, high barriers to entry/some sort of oligopolistic features, a relatively high level of demand inelasticity (utilities, staples, health care — these sectors are also unloved and under owned by institutional portfolio managers).
6. Alternative assets: allocate significant portion of asset mix to strategies that are not reliant on rising equity markets and where volatility can be used to advantage.
7. Precious metals: A hedge against the reflationary policies aimed at defusing deflationary risks — money printing, rolling currency depreciations, heightened trade frictions, and government procurement policies.
Source: Gluskin Sheff