The Austin-Decher Group - Morgan Stanley Team - Newport News, VA
Morgan Stanley
The Austin-Decher Group
at Morgan Stanley
Portfolio Management Group
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Top from left: Rachel Martin, Kathy Jones
Bottom from left: John Decher III, Wanda Austin, Christina Austin

The Global Investment Committee (GIC), which meets monthly to review the economic and political environment and asset allocation models for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management clients, also discusses favored long-term trends that it believes offer worthy investment opportunities. Listed below are the GIC’s favored themes and rationale for investing in them. To learn more about investment opportunities that track these themes, please contact us.

Value Opportunities Emerging Within Financials
The global economic recovery has shifted from asynchronous yet steady, to choppy and uncertain. This has been reflected in global Financials, where equities are losing value while the same company’s bonds and preferreds are in some cases gaining value. Although it may be tempting to reduce exposure, our thesis in regard to Financials is that pockets of value have emerged. While there is an increasing concern of financial contagion as a result of deterioration in credit and the US dollar there are potential canaries in the coal mine. We prefer US banks over European banks and also see opportunities in insurance companies as well as global real estate-related securities. Consider moving up the capital structure into the preferred or subordinated debt of some of the larger US financial institutions. READ MORE >

Japanese Equities Should Ride “Abenomics”
After 20-plus years of underperformance, Japan now offers a once-in-a-generation emerging growth story. The reason: the confluence of monetary and fiscal stimulus with political and structural reform. Overweight domestically oriented stocks and active managers. For the passive portion of one’s Japan equity allocation, we once again recommend hedging the currency after recommending currency unhedged for 18 months. READ MORE >

Industrials Improving on Macro Data and a Stabilizing USD
After enduring recessionary conditions, the manufacturing component of the US economy is starting to rebound. Positive inflection points in regional Fed manufacturing surveys, manufacturing new orders and the ISM Manufacturing PMI are encouraging signs. As manufacturing macro data improves, Industrials sector relative earnings revisions are rising and dollar headwinds continue to fade. READ MORE >

Positioning Portfolios for Reliable Income
The potential exists for investors in traditional and non-traditional yield-oriented investments to face challenges in 2016 as a result of changing interest rate dynamics. As a result, income-oriented investors must remain vigilant and flexible. In this low-growth economy, we prefer high-quality income securities with steady, reliable cash distributions. READ MORE >

Be Wary of Low-Volatility Strategies
In the wake of the Financial Crisis and growing concern about low growth and inflation, low-volatility investment strategies have become very popular. Over the past year, these strategies have garnered significant inflows, which can often signal a trend that has gone too far. We think investors should be wary of such momentum, and we recommend trimming such investments from portfolios in advance of a possible reversal, which could be caused by higher interest rates, better global growth or both. We recommend our other themes as a use of the proceeds. READ MORE >

Manage Risk of Rising Rates and Spread Widening: Use Credit Long/Short and Structured Credit Funds
The GIC believes interest rate normalization will most likely be a slow and measured affair, but will provide a meaningful headwind for investors using bonds for principal preservation. In particular, as rates rise, the GIC expects prices of longer-duration bonds to fall. Target zero or very low bond duration and minimal equity beta. Particularly attractive opportunities are focused on CMBS and CLO credit niches. Market neutral total return strategies should benefit from the current active security selection environment that the GIC envisions in 2016—delivering total return with bond-like volatility. Recommended correlation range: 0.30 to 0.50 to S&P 500; volatility range: < 8%. READ MORE >

Manage Broad Global Volatility: Consider Global Macro and Managed Futures
Along with interest rate normalization, the GIC believes capital market volatility will soon normalize, potentially increasing by as much as 30% over the next three-to-five years across bonds, equities, currencies and commodities. Amid China slowdown fears, this could lead to additional volatility in currencies and commodities across developed and emerging markets. Balanced growth investors should focus on adding to global macro and managed futures strategies to mitigate the pickttps:// in broad market volatility. These strategies should deliver uncorrelated return streams with normalization in the rates, currency and commodities markets, our most opportunistic trends. Recommended correlation range: < 0.50 to S&P 500; volatility range: < 12%.

Focus on Private Credit to Capture the Illiquidity Premium

Private credit markets continue to be impacted by a deleveraging banking system, financial austerity and limited non-bank sources of capital. The current supply/demand imbalance in private lending provides a reasonably rich illiquidity premium and presents attractive risk-adjusted investment opportunities for patient capital. Also, relative value credit hedge fund managers can take advantage of movements across yield curves and credit spreads based on the present macro picture and supply/demand dynamics. 

Risk Considerations

International investing entails greater risk, as well as greater potential rewards compared to US investing. These risks include political and economic uncertainties of foreign countries as well as the risk of currency fluctuations. These risks are magnified in countries with emerging markets, since these countries may have relatively unstable governments and less established markets and economies.

Alternative investments may be either traditional alternative investment vehicles, such as hedge funds, fund of hedge funds, private equity, private real estate and managed futures or, non-traditional products such as mutual funds and exchange-traded funds that also seek alternative-like exposure but have significant differences from traditional alternative investments. The risks of traditional alternative investments may include: can be highly illiquid, speculative and not suitable for all investors, loss of all or a substantial portion of the investment due to leveraging, short-selling, or other speculative practices, volatility of returns, restrictions on transferring interests in a fund, potential lack of diversification and resulting higher risk due to concentration of trading authority when a single advisor is utilized, absence of information regarding valuations and pricing, complex tax structures and delays in tax reporting, less regulation and higher fees than open-end mutual funds, and risks associated with the operations, personnel and processes of the manager. Non-traditional alternative strategy products may employ various investment strategies and techniques for both hedging and more speculative purposes such as short-selling, leverage, derivatives and options, which can increase volatility and the risk of investment loss.

Investing in commodities entails significant risks. Commodity prices may be affected by a variety of factors at any time, including but not limited to, (i) changes in supply and demand relationships, (ii) governmental programs and policies, (iii) national and international political and economic events, war and terrorist events, (iv) changes in interest and exchange rates, (v) trading activities in commodities and related contracts, (vi) pestilence, technological change and weather, and (vii) the price volatility of a commodity. In addition, the commodities markets are subject to temporary distortions or other disruptions due to various factors, including lack of liquidity, participation of speculators and government intervention.

The value of fixed income securities will fluctuate and, upon a sale, may be worth more or less than their original cost or maturity value. Bonds are subject to interest rate risk, call risk, reinvestment risk, liquidity risk, and credit risk of the issuer.

High yield bonds (bonds rated below investment grade) may have speculative characteristics and present significant risks beyond those of other securities, including greater credit risk, price volatility, and limited liquidity in the secondary market. High yield bonds should comprise only a limited portion of a balanced portfolio.

Duration, the most commonly used measure of bond risk, quantifies the effect of changes in interest rates on the price of a bond or bond portfolio. The longer the duration, the more sensitive the bond or portfolio would be to changes in interest rates.

Equity securities may fluctuate in response to news on companies, industries, market conditions and general economic environment.

Asset allocation and diversification do not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining financial markets.

Investing in currency involves additional special risks such as credit, interest rate fluctuations, derivative investment risk, and domestic and foreign inflation rates, which can be volatile and may be less liquid than other securities and more sensitive to the effect of varied economic conditions.

Because of their narrow focus, sector investments tend to be more volatile than investments that diversify across many sectors and companies.

Investing in foreign emerging markets entails greater risks than those normally associated with domestic markets, such as political, currency, economic and market risks.

Principal is returned on a monthly basis over the life of a mortgage-backed security. Principal prepayment can significantly affect the monthly income stream and the maturity of any type of MBS, including standard MBS, CMOs and Lottery Bonds.


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