Lessons Learned in 2013

In 2013, interest rates rose, bonds fell, equities soared, and US income-tax rates climbed higher. Before starting to place bets for 2014, investors would be wise to think about some important lessons from 2013.

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Will Emerging Stocks Get a Developed-World Lift in 2014?

The failure of emerging economies to piggyback on the rich-world recovery this year is giving investors pause, despite enticing emerging-market (EM) valuations. But investors shouldn’t underestimate the power of this normally symbiotic relationship—or the upside potential in EM stocks next year on even a modest pickup in EM economic activity.

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Reality – Expectations = Happiness

Many US investors may be disappointed when they open their account statements.  Despite the widespread news that the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 21% in the  first 10 months of 2013, most US investors’ taxable portfolio returns were far lower—typically somewhere between 5% and16% range.

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The Internet of Things: The Rise of the Machines Is Here

You’ve just settled into your seat in a jetliner when the pilot announces a mechanical delay. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon experience. But it could become a rarity before long, as jet engines and other moving parts are increasingly wired with technology that can diagnose problems before they occur.

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Getting Back into Value Equities

It finally feels like a great time to be a value investor again. After several challenging years, market conditions have become much more conducive to finding undervalued, controversial stocks with long-term payoff potential. Even after this year’s equity-market rally, we think the value rebound is just beginning.

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Better Beta Is No Monkey Business

The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare. This makes perfect sense to me, but says more about infinity than it does about monkeys.

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Predicting Death to Find Life in Emerging Market Stocks

Over the past year, investors have become excessively cautious about emerging markets. To compensate for the additional uncertainty, many underestimate the upside potential. Paradoxically, to get a better handle on the risks, we believe they should assume the worst. By using this “pre-mortem” approach, not only do they have a better chance of avoiding disaster, [...]

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Companies Can Do More to Unlock Shareholder Value

As the global recession and financial crisis move further back in the rearview mirror, companies have been more proactive about using their balance sheets in ways that enhance shareholder value. But we think they can do a lot more.

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Time to Bench the Equity Benchmark Too?

While fixed-income investors are growing increasingly aware of the risks of benchmark-oriented bond portfolios in a period of rising rates, equity investors have recently also started to question the wisdom of cap-weighted indices. We would go even further and argue that the performance of a cap-weighted benchmark may be irrelevant for the long-term goals of [...]

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Sugar: A Sweet Spot for Emerging Market Investors

Sugar consumption has often been seen as a mark of affluence. But for emerging market investors, knowing how sugar is consumed can also be a guide to the successful investments of the future. We argue that only on-the-ground grassroots research can provide the knowledge needed to find these investment sweet spots.

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