revealed – coombs bullish moves

The time is right to be a bull on global equities but not on Europe, according to David Coombs, head of multi-asset investments at Rathbones, who believes the LTRO will be looked back on in 10 years as a stroke of genius.

revealed - coombs bullish moves


He said the European Central Bank’s long-term refinancing operation (LTRO), put in place before Christmas, was a game-changer and gave European banks a rope to cling on to, but predicted it would not save the euro which is part of a different crisis.

"You cannot be a bull on Europe, but you can be a bull on global," he added.

Coombs admitted very few analysts realised the significance of the LTRO when it was first put in place and many viewed it as a half-measure by the ECB.

But a few "clever people" likened it to the Troubled Asset Relief Programme (TARP) established in the US in 2008, which has been attributed to the strengthening seen among American banks much earlier in the cycle.

In fact it was positive sentiment in the US that convinced Coombs it was time to put risk back on the table from the start of the year, something he picked up on following a trip across the pond at the end of last year.

He said in Europe investors and fund managers’ views can become too closed off from what is going on elsewhere in the world, which in the US means jobs creation, a more realistic housing market and strong, deleveraged corporates.

Portfolio changes

Across the Rathbones multi-asset portfolios Coombs has recently taken some profits, following the rally since the start of the year.

In the Strategic Growth Fund he has reduced his position in the Baring German Growth Fund, one of the biggest conviction positions he holds, to take profits and he has also taken some long-dated positions in gilts and T-bills to hedge risk.

Meanwhile, in the Total Return Fund Coombs has bought the Thames River Global Bond Fund managed by Paul Thursby, which with a duration of negative five is really short duration.

Finally in the Enhanced Growth Fund Coombs has increased his holding of the Baring Emerging Europe investment trust, which holds between 60% and 70% in Russia and the rest in Turkey.

Mona Shah, assistant fund manager on the Enhanced Growth Fund, said: "We like this fund because it also allocates to Turkey, which is uncorrelated to Russia. We see emerging Europe at the most attractive valuations within Emerging Markets at the moment and bought it at quite a big discount."

For more on Coombs’ view of Russia, watch Portfolio Adviser’s interview with him.



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