Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Playing the long game in global equities

While rising market uncertainty and geopolitical risk present potential investment headwinds, a tight long-term focus on investment in high quality companies could help investors navigate risk to secure longer term gains, says Walter Scott1  investment manager Paul Loudon.

Amid swirling inflationary pressures, higher interest rates and heightened geopolitical risk in the Middle East and Ukraine, global investors could be forgiven for taking a wary view of today’s equity markets. Yet Walter Scott’s Paul Loudon believes investors have always faced periods of risk and that a longer-term focus can help them navigate choppy market waters.

Now, more than ever, there are lots of threats and concerns re-emerging and potentially impacting equity markets,” he says.

That said, while we are living in uncertain times, we would argue this is nothing new. In fact, there is  always some degree of uncertainty across markets. We believe the key thing is that investors keep calm, don’t panic and stay the course while remaining true to their core philosophy.” 

Loudon points to the long-term resilience of equity markets. Their historic upward ascent, he adds, has come despite short-term setbacks ranging from the global financial crisis - and other shock market events such as 9/11 - to living though the worst global pandemic in over a century. With this in mind, he believes investors should remain tightly focused on investing in quality companies in order to capitalise on longer term market appreciation and growth.

We live in an uncertain world. Yet despite all of the high-risk and often scary scenarios we have seen, markets have marched relentlessly higher over time,” he adds.

Loudon believes the sheer ingenuity and endeavour of humankind will continue to prevail, allowing companies to build economic value, creating attractive opportunities for patient and committed investors. 

He stresses that while short-term predictions and investment decision making can often prove unreliable, staying the course over the longer term can hold the key to generating more resilient and substantial gains.

Market noise

In our view there is so much noise and randomness in the short-term that predicting which companies and sectors will do well in six months’ time is almost impossible. What is possible is finding companies that can deliver value over the long term. 

To do this, investors need to be consistent and ‘stick to the knitting’ of their philosophy and investment process. It can be tempting to try and chase returns but, in our view, discipline and patience tend to deliver their own rewards.”

While advocating a long-term investment approach, Loudon believes it is crucial to invest in high quality companies with positive growth prospects and which are run by highly competent management teams. This he posits, should offer more chance of long-term gains and help insulate investors against potential bouts of market volatility.

Investing in quality assets and equities is more important than ever in volatile markets. If you are a long-term investor it is no good being invested in low quality deeply cyclical or loss-making businesses which could well lose money

We would argue that investors should seek out and gain exposure to high quality equities issued by companies that enjoy supportive tailwinds that can help them grow over the longer term. In our view, time is the friend of quality businesses and the enemy of inferior businesses. Quality companies with high returns on capital and strong balance sheets will, we believe, stand the test of time and will also tend to perform strongly during turbulent times,” he adds. 

Technological advancement

From a sectoral perspective, Loudon sees a raft of new opportunities being created in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) and industrial automation which he believes can only grow over time. 

AI is absolutely at the forefront of helping companies cut costs and boost productivity. As our societies age and wage bills go up, industrial automation is increasing and companies that can automate processes are really benefiting

As an enabler of AI itself, advancing semiconductor quality technology and the miniaturisation of semiconductors are key and could, we believe, create many attractive new investment opportunities in the future,” he concludes.

The value of investments can fall. Investors may not get back the amount invested.

1 Investment Managers are appointed by BNY Mellon Investment Management EMEA Limited (BNYMIM EMEA), BNY Mellon Fund Managers Limited (BNYMFM), BNY Mellon Fund Management (Luxembourg) S.A. (BNY MFML) or affiliated fund operating companies to undertake portfolio management activities in relation to contracts for products and services entered into by clients with BNYMIM EMEA, BNY MFML or the BNY Mellon funds.
1684851 Exp: 17 July 2024