2018 started with a great deal of investor optimism. Global economies were growing, US tax cuts were predicted to be a boost to earnings, interest rates were still at low levels and expectations were that international trade tensions would be reasonably resolved. What a difference a year makes!
As 2018 closed, global economies are no longer synchronized in a positive manner (some have actually contracted), tax cuts have boosted earnings in the US but a lot of the returns to shareholders have been in the form of stock repurchases at high valuations. The prospects for continued accelerating earnings have been diminished with no great catalysts in sight. Interest rates have increased causing concerns over debt burdens. Trade disputes, particularly between the US and China, have contributed to market jitters.
Expansions and contractions are normal phenomena in the market cycle. It is not atypical to see a sudden and dramatic end to advancing markets. It is entirely possible the current selloff may continue for some time but we see some positive outcomes. Valuations are dropping with prices. Where we have been having difficulty finding attractive opportunities, more are now coming into focus. Investors will now focus more on longer term, fundamental valuations.
Invest in solid, well financed and managed companies. While we continue to advise caution, invest incrementally as you identify candidates for investment.
Bank of Nova Scotia, BNS-T, Owned personally and by clients, Last Purchase September 2016, $69.85
The Bank of Nova Scotia is the most international of the Canadian banks with branches in the Caribbean, Central and South America. Loan growth in the Latin American markets has been robust. To date there has not been any apparent deterioration in credit quality. Given BNS’s geographic footprint, operations are in areas sensitive to commodity prices that have recently exhibited higher levels of volatility. The current yield of 4.8% is attractive as are the relative valuation parameters to its peers.
Vermillion Energy Inc., VET-T, Owned personally and by clients, Last Purchase April 2018, $45.51
Vermilion Energy has interests in oil and gas producing properties in Western Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia as well as a substantial non-operated interest in the Corrib natural gas field off the northwest coast of Ireland. Vermilion is well managed with a solid balance sheet. At today’s commodity prices, Vermilion generates free cash flow that supports the current yield of 8.6%. Its geographically diversified operations should contribute to a growing production profile over the next few years. The energy sector has been particularly weak over the past year leading to some very attractive valuations for a number of companies.
TransCanada Corporation, TRP-T, Owned by clients, Last Purchase December 2015, 46.63
TransCanada Corporation (TRP) is one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in North America, focusing on natural gas pipelines, liquids pipelines, and energy (mainly power generation). Its key natural gas pipeline assets of over 67,000 km include the main Alberta gas gathering system (the NGTL), the Canadian Mainline, ANR, Columbia Gas, and Mexico. Its liquids pipeline network includes the Keystone pipeline system. TRP’s energy business consists of 10,000 MW of generation capacity in Canada and the United States and 118 bcf of unregulated gas storage. That said, it has announced the sale of its U.S. merchant power portfolio. TRP is working to develop $25b of near-term secured growth projects. The company sees 8-10% dividend growth per year out to 2020. At current prices, the stock is yielding 5.1%.
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The opinions expressed here are ours alone. They are provided for information purposes only and are not tailored to the needs of any particular individual or company, are not an endorsement, recommendation, or sponsorship of any entity or security, and do not constitute investment advice. We strongly recommend that you seek advice from a qualified investment advisor before making any investment decision.