Discerning value amid China’s macro noise

After China reopened at the end of 2022, the market’s optimism soon faded and turned into disappointment. But despite the various macro concerns, the picture is more mixed from our perspective. Some segments posted decent recoveries which were often overlooked amid the pessimism.

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At FSSA, we are long-term, bottom-up investors with a focus on quality. This mind-set also applies to how we engage with companies on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) matters.
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In the past 12 months, global investors have worried about a “regime change” in the long-term inflation outlook, as well as the heavy rotation away from technology companies after the Covid optimism reversed.
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Japan’s equity market experienced a sharp growth to value rotation in January, followed by an indiscriminate sell-off by foreign investors as sentiment on the global economy turned pessimistic.
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Given inflation levels are picking up around the world, why is this not a problem in Japan? There are fundamental differences in Japan’s economy to explain this. First, underlying consumption has stood still in the past decade or so.
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FSSA Investment Managers has been investing in Asia and global emerging markets for three decades. We are conservative investors, and resilience during market sell-offs has underpinned our long-term performance.
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The performance of the FSSA Japan Equity strategy has been under pressure year-to-date, driven by a violent style and sector rotation from quality growth to financials and cyclical companies.
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In our last client update, we discussed the reasons we resisted the temptation to switch into pure cyclicals and so-called “value” stocks — even though we had anticipated a sector rotation in the market.
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In the most recent data, Japan’s economy shrank less than forecasted during the first quarter of the year. With the vaccination program on high gear, are we finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel for Japan?
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