Category Archives: Credit Suisse

4/2/16: Smal v Large Cap Stocks: Recession Cycle Performance

Credit Suisse did an interesting exercise recently in a note to clients. They took U.S. equities indices for large cap (S&P500) and small cap (Russell 2000) stocks and computed an average downside to each index across all U.S. recessions from 1980 on and then to the upside from the post-recession trough. The episodes averaged over are: 1980, 1981-1982, 1990-1991, 2001, and 2007-2009. As a caution, there is no survivorship bias (index composition risk) adjustment to the resulting data.

So per CS: “Measuring the average peak-to-trough performance of the Russell 2000 and S&P 500 from one year before the start of each recession to the end of the downturn, the bank found that large caps were more resilient than small caps across the five slumps: the S&P 500 fell by an average of 32 percent, while the Russell 2000 dropped 37 percent. But it was a different story on the way back up. The Russell 2000 averaged returns of 86 percent from the start of each recession to one year after its end, while the S&P 500 posted returns of just 51 percent.”

So over the part of the cycle covered by CS, Russell 2000 was up, net, 17 percent, while S&P was up, net, only 3%.

14/11/15: More Evidence U.S. Capex Cycle is Still Lagging

In a recent post (link here), I covered the issue of shares buy-backs and the lack of capex at the S&P500 constituents level. A recent report by Credit Suisse titled "The Capital Deployment Challenge" takes a look at the same problem.

Per report: "Companies in the US market are currently in great health as corporate profitability is approaching historical highs. This high level of profitability has produced record levels of corporate cash, and thereby has created a challenge for managers: how to allocate all of this excess cash. Companies may choose to reinvest in their businesses – organically or through M&A – or they may return the cash to capital providers, through dividends, share buybacks or by paying down debt..."

"Historically, companies have deployed an average of 60% of cash flows in capital investment (28% in organic growth and 32% in M&A) and have returned  26% to shareholders (12% dividends and 14% share buybacks). In the past several years, the capital allocation balance has swung away from growth towards buybacks and dividends: capital invested has dropped to 53% (27% organic growth and 26% M&A), while cash returned to shareholders has increased to 36% (15% dividends and 21%

A handy chart to illustrate the switching:

So Credit Suisse divide the S&P500 universe into two sets of companies: reinvestors and returners. The former represents companies which predominantly direct their cash balances to organic reinvestment and/or M&A, whilst the latter are companies that prefer, on balance, to use cash surpluses for dividends and/or shares buybacks.

The report looks at three metrics across each type of company: underperformers within each group - companies that underperformed their peers average in terms of total shareholder returns, outperformers - companies that outperform their peers average, and average across all companies.

Chart below shows the extent of differences across two types of companies and three categories in terms of cash flow return on investment (CFROI):

The chart above "shows that the initial level of returns on capital is generally lower for reinvestors than for returners, with an average of 9% and 11%, respectively. The reinvestors and returners who outperformed their peers both improved their CFROI. However, the outperforming reinvestors generated a greater operating improvement (180bps vs 150bps for returners)."

Which is all pretty much in line with what I said on numerous occasions before: no matter how you twist the data, average returns to not re-investing outpace returns from investing. Meaning that: either companies are getting worse at identifying and capturing investment opportunities or investment opportunities are thin on the ground. Or both...