Tagged: bottom-up investing

Constituents

Is you is, or is you ain’t, my constituents?

If you know cinema’s Coen Brothers and the epically hilarious 2000 movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” you’re smiling. You remember the scene, the southern accent.

In geopolitics, a sweeping referendum last weekend reunited Crimea with Mother Russia but we heard nothing about the Latino vote or the union vote or the male vote. Demographics, we gather, weren’t crucial to Putin’s putsch. The constituents supporting secession were of a cloth.

Say you run a clothing retailer on the cutting edge of young fashion. Slicing your demographics with analytics drawn from your in-store inventory management system, you find that females aged 18-34 drive half your revenues. These are your core constituents, and you’ll concentrate on keeping them happy. But you realize too that growth takes more than one group. You craft a plan with products, advertisements and placement to expand patronage from other demographic segments.

The equity market has core constituents too. Your active holders, the ones who measure story and strategy. We divide them further with growth, value and growth-at-reasonable-price (GARP) characteristics, and often finer still.

Had we a marketplace where consumption of the product – your shares – was only about story and strategy, we’d call it a wrap and the movie would end. Yet this constituency taken together is still just one: Active investors.

Blackrock is the world’s largest investment manager. Most of its $5 trillion in assets are allocated not according to corporate story but around sector, industry and class. So what do we consider this indexed constituency? We at ModernIR call it Passive investment behavior or simply Indexes/ETFs. (more…)

Daily Self Help

We saw Gravity last weekend and like so many others I immediately thought of the equity market.

Karen hates how movie trailers today tell the whole story (guess it saves one having to see films), so I’ll offer but a glimpse. At the start, George Clooney is jetpacking around, doing loops and flips in space as colleagues work outside the space shuttle. Brief puffs from the machine’s nozzles juke him this way and that. Nimble.

Last week it was Friday before the equity market managed to finish a trading day without an exchange declaring Self Help. “Self Help” is regulatory language that permits one exchange to skip another when routing orders because that exchange’s systems aren’t responding normally.

We started to joke here about Daily Self Help, the excuse to avoid somebody else because they weren’t behaving normally. On Aug 22 this year when the Nasdaq halted trading for three hours due to data issues, it began with the exchange declaring Self Help against NYSE Arca.

Last week, options markets repeatedly declared Self Help against equity markets, and vice versa. We infer the presence of abnormalities related to simultaneous trading in both equities and options, what are called “complex trades.” It’s got to be something more than stocks because equity volumes have been light.

We find the palimpsests – overwritten images – of Self Help in equity data too. Even now if you visit Google and type in your ticker and view historical quotes, you’ll find that data for Sep 23, 2013, is missing. Until two days ago, Sept 26-27 were absent too, lately backfilled. Google’s data are supplied by a third party like Thomson Reuters.

Switching gears for one more image, we love Venice, the Italian city built on water. Napoleon called the Piazza San Marco, that sweeping plaza casting its gaze beyond San Giorgio Maggiore toward Lido in the shadow of St Mark’s basilica, “the most beautiful drawing room in Europe.”

But peer as you pass them on the Grand Canal and you’ll see how the sea laps at casements on floors of decorated edifices that have sunk toward the sea. There is a fine line between the splendor and the sewer. (more…)