Early this year, concerns over higher inflation and interest rates led to a rise in volatility, and global equity indices ended the quarter down in most markets.
How to Find Quality Growth in a Volatile World
However, despite the weak start to 2018, the Invesco International and Global Growth team sees positive signs among a number of important Earnings, Quality and Valuation (EQV) measures. The recent spike in volatility is a welcome development for investors like ourselves who emphasize valuation as a critical input to risk and return potential.
The quarter in review
In dollar terms, the MSCI All Country World Index fell by 0.96% in the first quarter. US stocks (represented by the S&P 500 Index) declined by about 0.76%. On either end of the spectrum was Europe, with the MSCI Europe Index down 1.98%, and emerging markets, with the MSCI Emerging Markets Index up 1.42% —boosted by Latin American equities and Brazil, in particular.1
Cyclical areas of the market, including many blue chip technology shares, felt the brunt of the share price declines. Growth continued its outperformance over value, but by much smaller margins than seen in the fourth quarter. In general, small caps outperformed large caps in most regions.2
Consensus estimates for growth are healthy, with the MSCI All Country World Index expected to deliver approximately 5% growth in revenue and 11% to 12% growth in earnings over the coming 12 months.3 By region, the US is expected to deliver 16% earnings growth, emerging markets about 13%, Europe and Canada 8% to 9% each, and Japan about 2%.4
However, the strength of global growth and estimate revision data clearly moderated in the first quarter compared with the fourth quarter of 2017. In the US, consensus estimates have been bolstered by tax cuts and a weaker dollar, but in Europe and Japan, the strength of the euro and yen have acted as drag on exports and foreign earnings translation. More recently, the uncertainty around US trade policy has tempered the outlook for growth expectations globally.
In short, investors are less certain about 2018 growth today than they were three months ago and eagerly await first-quarter results to adjust expectations accordingly.