One of the events I look forward to each year is the annual Morningstar Investment Conference which generally occurs in June. The Conference has received much publicity over the years and continues to attract some of the best minds in our industry. The event is picked up by a variety of national business shows such as CNBC and others, which adds to its popularity. It is one of the few venues where advisors like us get a chance to rub elbows with mutual fund managers as well as peers. This year’s conference didn’t disappoint.payday loans I had an opportunity to speak to many managers about a variety of topics ranging from Europe, the U.S. economy, bonds, alternative investments, and corporate profits to name a few. It is great to get the perspective of other experts, which helps us formulate our own decisions with respect to research and portfolio management.
The focus of this year’s conference centered mostly on Europe, bonds, and our economy, but it typically touches on many issues related to investing. Several keynote speakers such as Michael Hasenstab, who manages the Templeton Global Bond Fund and Dan Fuss, who manages the Loomis Sayles Bond Fund were more optimistic about Europe, but that was the overarching opinion of most managers. They know Europe has major challenges to resolve, but resolving them is the only course of action they must take at this point. Our firm is in complete agreement with them. As they and others stated, while the problems in Europe are reported daily, there may be opportunities to take advantage of the fallen stock values in those regions. As a result, Bloom Asset Management’s Investment Committee recently conducted a complete review of our foreign equity allocations and came to the conclusion that while equity valuations are very compelling, there are too many question marks right now and decided to revisit our foreign equity allocations again shortly.
The conference breakout sessions are another key feature to the event. I attended several that I thought were interesting, which had to do with equity valuations and alternative investments. According to the panelists, foreign large companies, or developed stocks look the most appealing from a valuation perspective, followed by energy/natural resources, and then U.S. large company stocks. Jeremy Grantham, who is a managing partner of GMO mutual funds and who manages several funds, was very positive on resource investments mostly because of future worldwide population growth. In addition to their attractive values, he says the world is having a difficult time feeding 5 billion people right now and wonders how the world will be able to feed 10 billion people 30 years from now. Grantham says that agriculture as well as other commodities will play an integral role in the years to come.
Our investment team shares some of the same views held by the presenters and keynote speakers I heard during my visit. The conference has a way of reinforcing some of the ideas and views our team shares about lots of issues. One example of this is China. Despite the rumblings we hear about China’s weakening economy, there are millions of people there that want to eat better and enjoy the comforts other people in the world have enjoyed for years.payday loans This is a positive development for developed countries like the U.S. because we can export goods and services that China cannot provide.
The Conference is a great way to discuss strategy with firms like us and to see what other firms are thinking about the market, economy, and asset allocation, among others. I always get a chance bring back new information and share it with my firm. I am already looking forward to next year’s Conference.