What are the prospects for eurozone shares after the recent rally?
Eurozone shares have performed strongly as political risk recedes. We look at whether their good run can continue.
Eurozone equities have made strong gains in 2017. The eurozone stockmarket, as measured by the MSCI EMU index, has returned 11.9% in the year to 31 May.
Reduced political risk
A large part of the reason for Europe’s recent gains is that investors are less worried about political risk. At the start of the year, investors faced a calendar full of elections in countries including the Netherlands and France.
Many investors feared that these elections could see victories for anti-EU candidates, and possibly even lead to the break-up of the eurozone.
That scenario hasn’t come to pass. Eurozone equities enjoyed strong gains in the wake of the Dutch and French elections when centrist candidates were declared the victors.
Meanwhile, the forthcoming German elections are not expected to result in a radical change to existing government policy. Elections in Italy are due no later than May 2018.
Eurozone shares still attractively valued
Given the recent gains, it may be worth considering whether the eurozone stockmarket still represents good value.
Investors can use a number of metrics to work out a stockmarket’s valuation. One frequently used measure is the cyclically-adjusted price-to-earnings ratio, or CAPE. This is defined as the share price divided by the average of ten years of earnings, adjusted for inflation. A lower figure suggests better value.
The chart below shows the CAPE valuation for the eurozone, US, and Asia ex Japan regions going back to 1982.
The eurozone’s current CAPE ratio of 15.6x is below its own long-term average of 19.9x, indicating it is currently lowly valued compared to its own history. It is also well below that of the US market and in line with Asia.
Earnings improvements could offer support
So, the eurozone stockmarket may appear to be attractively valued, but what can drive further gains from here? Some investors point to the region’s economic recovery which has been gathering momentum since summer 2016. There is also the prospect that corporate earnings could improve.
Corporate earnings growth in Europe has been lacklustre in recent years due to the slow economic recovery from the financial crisis. Ultra-low levels of inflation have made it difficult for companies to raise prices, which has in turn been a drag on profits.
However, recent earnings seasons have painted a more positive picture. The chart below shows that corporate earnings in Europe picked up significantly over the course of 2016.
View from a fund manager:
Nicholette MacDonald-Brown, portfolio manager and co-head of pan-European equity research, says:
“The outcome of recent eurozone elections should allow equity investors to concentrate on the broadening economic recovery, rather than fearing a potential break-up of the euro.
“Equity valuations are very attractive in Europe, both in an absolute and relative sense. If you combine this with the accelerating earnings growth we are currently seeing, then we think European equities could offer an attractive opportunity to investors. The recent earnings season has been very encouraging with sales and profits beats from a large number of companies across a variety of sectors.
“Recent European survey data indicates that the consumer recovery has been joined by a manufacturing one. As manufacturing confidence transforms into higher investment spending and higher levels of employment, this should in turn feed back into the consumer’s pocket. This would broaden the base of the economic recovery, boosting its stability. All of this would be good for equity markets.
“At current valuations, investors have the opportunity to take advantage of a strengthening and synchronised economic growth environment where the political risk is declining.”
Please remember that past performance is not a guide to future performance and may not be repeated. The value of investments and the income from them may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amounts originally invested. Exchange rate changes may cause the value of any overseas investments to rise or fall.
This communication is marketing material. The views and opinions contained herein are those of the named author(s) on this page, and may not necessarily represent views expressed or reflected in other Schroders communications, strategies or funds.
This document is intended to be for information purposes only and it is not intended as promotional material in any respect. The material is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument. The material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, accounting, legal or tax advice, or investment recommendations. Information herein is believed to be reliable but Schroder Investment Management Ltd (Schroders) does not warrant its completeness or accuracy.
The data has been sourced by Schroders and should be independently verified before further publication or use. No responsibility can be accepted for error of fact or opinion. This does not exclude or restrict any duty or liability that Schroders has to its customers under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (as amended from time to time) or any other regulatory system. Reliance should not be placed on the views and information in the document when taking individual investment and/or strategic decisions.
Past Performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of investments and the income from them may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amounts originally invested. Exchange rate changes may cause the value of any overseas investments to rise or fall.
Any sectors, securities, regions or countries shown above are for illustrative purposes only and are not to be considered a recommendation to buy or sell.
The forecasts included should not be relied upon, are not guaranteed and are provided only as at the date of issue. Our forecasts are based on our own assumptions which may change. Forecasts and assumptions may be affected by external economic or other factors.
Issued by Schroder Unit Trusts Limited, 31 Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7QA. Registered Number 4191730 England. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.