Geoff Cutmore - Morning Thoughts

Are we done selling?

Geoff Cutmore

Another morning of corporate results, and largely guidance is being maintained. We spoke to at least a half dozen CEOs or CFOs Thursday, running real world businesses, who say they are unaffected by the ongoing subprime-related malaise in financial markets.

Beyond selected financials (UBS and Commerzbank) the declared outlook is for growth remains robust.

The problem, say fund managers like Mark Tinker and Andy Brough, is that not too many investors want to step in while the markets are this volatile. There is little upside for the professional money manager in taking on the market with a conviction trade on fundamentals.

As a new Merrill survey of managers reveals, at least 82 percent said they thought global stock markets are fairly valued or undervalued. But, hey, nobody got fired for buying after a new trend is established.

Andy Brough's line: managers are prepared to wait until they know more about the earnings outlook and the macro backdrop before committing funds. They are prepared to pay more once they know more.

Mark suggests the analysts' earnings revisions have been too negative, but it will take a few more weeks yet before that is confirmed and the broader economic outlook gets reviewed.

Taking the UK, Tinker is unhappy with the Bank of England's reluctance to move on rates and says the Fed is pursuing the right policy response. He makes the point that the bank should be looking at core inflation rather than CPI because the inflation in fuel and food prices is not being generated by domestic cost-push or demand-pull money supply. Instead, there are external factors for these price increases that are reducing disposable income.

He says the emerging and US market opportunities look more compelling, as both the ECB and the BoE are unwilling to be seen to be bailing out the financial sector, and that unwillingness to cut rates will create a drag on growth. Tinker calls this "sado-monetary" policy, and believes it will open a performance gap between markets with easier money as the subprime story burns itself through.

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