The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

Stock Takes: Managers tackle Brexit nerves

Don’t panic, most say, and some see it as opportunity.
Devon Funds Management principal Paul Glass reckons Brexit, in itself, isn't a catastrophic event. Photo / AP
Devon Funds Management principal Paul Glass reckons Brexit, in itself, isn't a catastrophic event. Photo / AP

Local fund managers have been assuaging clients' concerns about Brexit-driven volatility in their monthly market commentaries.

"Don't panic" has been the overall tone, as would be expected, but a wide range of views have been expressed.

Perhaps most interestingly, North Shore-based Pie Funds is flagging the potential to start a directly managed UK and continental Europe small cap fund that could take advantage of buying opportunities presented by the Brexit upheaval.

In the firm's July newsletter, chief executive Mike Taylor said "there is nothing like a crisis to bring about bargains".

Over at Castle Point Funds, managing director Richard Stubbs used his post-Brexit note to remind clients of the pricey nature of global sharemarkets.

"Prior to Brexit equity prices were looking expensive and many equity market price charts have a very toppy look to them," Stubbs said. "If we are now in the start of a bear market, someone looking back in 10 years time will likely ask why it wasn't blindingly obvious."

However, he said there was a lack of euphoria in markets, which usually accompanies market peaks.

"In fact, it is hard to find anyone who isn't bearish."

Loose monetary policy was keeping asset prices expensive and picking the next big short-term move in equity markets was "fraught with risk", Stubbs cautioned.

Contagion concern

Devon Funds Management principal Paul Glass reckons Brexit, in itself, isn't a catastrophic event.

"Remember that the UK is not part of the euro currency and has its own central bank," he said in the firm's monthly commentary. "Europe also has much to lose if it tries to take a hard line on trade with the UK - the UK actually imports more from Europe than it exports."

Glass said the major concern was Europe's economic vulnerability and the risk of Brexit emboldening other European nations to try and exit the union, which could lead to a collapse in the euro and upheaval in financial markets. "We will be watching market developments closely because volatility often provides opportunities to buy high-quality stocks at attractive prices."

Broker goes global

New Zealand broker OMF has spread its wings across the Tasman, opening an office in Sydney's King Street Wharf area. Chief executive Matt Blackwell said the first international move in the firm's 30-year history would expand its presence in interbank broking, energy and agricultural futures and foreign exchange services.

"The expansion into Australia allows the OMF group to organically grow in markets where we believe we have ability to build market share, while providing the added benefit of being able to extend our New Zealand hours of business for our wholesale operation," Blackwell said.

Airport flying above market turbulence

Market darling Auckland Airport has been one of the big winners of the post-Brexit bounce in equity markets.

Its shares rose to an all-time high of $6.99 yesterday, 13.7 per cent above the $6.15 they closed at on June 24 - the day markets around the world got hammered by Britain's decision to leave the European Union.

The $6.99 closing price for the stock gives the firm a market capitalisation of $8.3 billion.
Auckland Airport has been flying high on the back of a tourism boom and new international air connections into this country's biggest city. Meanwhile, defensive equities with reliable dividends, like the airport, are in-vogue amid an uncertain global economic environment.

The recent share price run-up was likely buoyed by Morgan Stanley's upgrade of the company on July 3.

The broker lifted its rating on the stock from under-weight to equal-weight, effectively a hold rating, while bumping up its price target to $6.39 from $5.50.

It also upgraded its outlook on Sydney Airport.

Morgan Stanley analysts said any short-term drop in inbound European passenger numbers as a result of Brexit would be offset by outbound and strong Asian passenger growth.

- NZ Herald

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