A year to forget in investment funds | Markets

A year to forget in investment funds | Markets

If you are one of the 700,000 Spanish owners of an investment fund it is highly probable that you will lose money in 2018. This exercise will not go down in history due to having suffered one of the great stock market crashes, such as 1929, 2000 or 2008, but yes he will do it for having left one of the most damaging balance sheets for fund-sharers.

The Annus horribilis of the investment is clearly perceived when analyzing the large categories of funds of Inverco, the association of fund managers. None of the families is positive so far this year. The safest funds (deposits and short-term bonds) lose on average almost 0.5% in the year; those of public debt yield 1.31%; the Spanish stock market fell by 6.4% and absolute returns (which, in theory, should be able to avoid falling markets) recorded losses of 3.67% up to November.

Taking into account the money that is in each category, The average devaluation suffered by the owners of investment funds has been 3.5%, according to the data handled by the VDOS analysis firm.

To contextualize this data we must go back to the crash of 2008. That exercise there were falls of between 30% and 50% in the stock funds and, however, "most of the money was then invested in money and income funds fixed, which recorded increases, so 70% of the participants managed to avoid the losses ", recalls José Luis Manrique, director of studies of Inverco.

That is 2018 will end up with worse results for the average investor than the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.

"Very rarely has the circumstance occurred that the bond and equity markets work poorly the same year," explains Manuel Gutiérrez-Mellado, of BlackRock's sales team for Spain and Portugal. "It's something exceptional because, normally, in the years of stock market declines the bonds work well."

In 2018 virtually all financial assets have gone bad. European Stock Exchanges lose more than 10%, the United States drops more than 5%, Japan's is left at 15%, the European sovereign debt index loses almost 1% and that of bonds issued by US companies yields another 1.3%. Even oil (-13%) and gold (-4%) -which often worked as a refuge asset- have been dragged into the red.

Spanish investors are suffering in this exercise
some red numbers of 3.5%, on average

The most surprising thing about this widespread debacle is that it has taken place in a context of robust growth of the world economy. "The global GDP grows at a rate of 3.7%, in line with the average of the last decades, however there are several factors that worry the markets, such as the end of the long period of expansionary monetary policies, the low growth of productivity and commercial war, "explains Joan Bonet, director of strategy at Banca March.

90% of funds, in losses

If in 2008 70% of investment fund participants dodged the red numbers, this year only 10% of the funds offer positive returns. There are 180 vehicles of the 2,254 active funds monitored by Morningstar. In percentage of affected participants, the proportion is even greater, since all the best-selling funds, marketed by CaixaBank, BBVA or Santander, are at a loss.

For example, the BBVA Quality Inversión Conservadora fund, with almost 300,000 participants, loses 3% in the year. CaixaBank Ahorro Cartera, with 207,000 owners, leaves 1.2%. And the BBVA Quality Inversión Moderada fund, with 200,000 participants, loses 3.5%.

"We must recognize that this year is especially difficult for conservative investors, those who do not want to see themselves at any time with losses," explains Joaquín García Huerga, strategist at BBVA AM. "For next year we are convinced that there will be gains both in the stock market and in fixed income, which will be a relief for them."

Difficulties in financial assets have been felt in the outflow of funds. In September, October and November, investors made net reimbursements for an aggregate amount of more than 1,500 million euros. These flows have been maintained in December, according to sources from several fund managers. At the end of the year, the joint assets of Spanish investment funds will be close to 263,000 million euros, practically the same amount as of December 2017. It will be the first year without increases since 2012. In the previous five years the volume had doubled.

In the midst of this bleak landscape there have been some niches of funds that have managed to stand out, especially those that invest in equities and bonds of the United States. Also some sectoral funds, specialized in the health sector and in the technology sector.

In short-term fixed income Only a handful of funds that invest in bonds in dollars, and that have not covered the currency, have achieved attractive returns. This is the case of the CaixaBank Fixed Income Dollar Portfolio, which gains 10.4% in the year, or the Santander Short Term Dollar Portfolio, with 7.2%.

Of those who invest in Spanish bonds in the short term very few are saved from burning. An exception is the Sabadell Bonos España, which rents a notable 1% thanks to a portfolio in which it combines Treasury bonds with some bonds from Adif and the Community of Madrid.

Among those who invest in long-term bonds, highlights the Sabadell Bonos Internacional, which adds 2.4% in the year thanks to its positions in futures on US debt and Rural International Fixed Income, which leases 1.85% thanks to a combination of Spanish and US sovereign debt .

In mixed backgrounds, the red numbers are also overwhelming. Almost all of these products are in losses, with few exceptions, such as the GPM Gestión Alcyon Active, which has managed to raise an increase of more than 5.6% thanks to the fact that it allocates part of the portfolio to American companies. The Global Allocation, which goes up by 0.25%, also has a good year.

In Spanish stock funds only a passive fund, such as the ING Orange Fund S & P 500, some US Stock Exchange funds (such as the CaixaBank Bolsa Seleccion USA) and some of the Latin American Stock Exchange, such as Renta 4 Latinoamérica, manage to be almost positive. Despite these exceptions, 2018 will be remembered by fund investors as one of the worst exercises in history.


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