As we have said many times the past couple of months investors must balance their portfolios before the tighter monetary policy cycle kicks properly into gear. Investors should reduce exposure to growth and bubble stocks, while increasing exposure to themes that can provide some cover during inflationary pressures. The themes we think will do well during inflationary periods are mega caps (Microsoft’s recent price hike shows why), semiconductors, logistics, financial trading firms (bet on volatility), cyber security (business necessity), and the commodity sector. The fact that mega caps have reached unimaginable market power and are hugely profitable is bad for the overall economy, but it is likely going act as a cushion for the equity market when interest rates start rising.
The chart below shows another important aspect of markets that we need to be aware of. The decade of the 2010s was the best decade in terms of earnings growth adjusted for inflation in the S&P 500 since WWII. It explains the multiple expansion under lower interest rates, but it also explains the rise of passive investing as the rapid earnings growth has lifted all boats. The 2010s is unlikely be repeated in the current decade and a higher inflationary outlook will likely give rise to a different investing climate in equities and active strategies might stage a big comeback.