Sectors that Perform Best in Deflation


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An eternal optimist, Liu-Yue built two social enterprises to help make the world a better place. Liu-Yue co-founded Oxstones Investment Club a searchable content platform and business tools for knowledge sharing and financial education. also provides investors with direct access to U.S. commercial real estate opportunities and other alternative investments. In addition, Liu-Yue also co-founded Cute Brands a cause-oriented character brand management and brand licensing company that creates social awareness on global issues and societal challenges through character creations. Prior to his entrepreneurial endeavors, Liu-Yue worked as an Executive Associate at M&T Bank in the Structured Real Estate Finance Group where he worked with senior management on multiple bank-wide risk management projects. He also had a dual role as a commercial banker advising UHNWIs and family offices on investments, credit, and banking needs while focused on residential CRE, infrastructure development, and affordable housing projects. Prior to M&T, he held a number of positions in Latin American equities and bonds investment groups at SBC Warburg Dillon Read (Swiss Bank), OFFITBANK (the wealth management division of Wachovia Bank), and in small cap equities at Steinberg Priest Capital Management (family office). Liu-Yue has an MBA specializing in investment management and strategy from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Marketing from Stern School of Business at NYU. He also completed graduate studies in international management at the University of Oxford, Trinity College.

The article listed below provides an investing strategy for deflation.  In a deflationary environment studies have shown Consumer Staples and Health Care sectors perform best, and large-cap stocks outperform small caps.   An easy way to invest based on this investment strategy is to use ETF’s to invest in the right sectors and market cap size.  Please go to our free stock list for our free ETF lists based on asset class, size, countries, sectors, and strategies.

-Liu-Yue (Louie) Lam

It’s an Ill Wind That Blows No Good

by Mark Hulbert
Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Commentary: Some stocks may very well benefit from deflation

The specter of deflation once again reared its ugly head on Tuesday, contributing to a big tumble in the stock market.

By Tuesday’s close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had fallen 107 points, erasing nearly half of its big gain during the previous session.

But are investors acting rationally when they dump stocks because of deflationary concerns?

Though it would certainly appear that they are, I’m not so sure. The job of a contrarian is to question widely-held assumptions, and the notion that deflation would be bad for stocks is so universally held these days that virtually no one appears to be subjecting it to any critical scrutiny.

One firm that has nevertheless done so is Ned Davis Research, the quantitative research firm. Lance Stonecypher, Senior Sector Strategist for the firm, recently analyzed sector performance during previous periods of significant deflation, both in this country as well as in Japan. Since there haven’t been many such periods, his conclusions of necessity must remain somewhat tentative.

But some fairly consistent themes nevertheless did emerge.

Perhaps the primary conclusion that Stonecypher reached was that, during past deflationary periods, the industry groups that performed the best fell into two categories Necessity and Defensive. Examples include Consumer Staples and Health Care.

Though Ned Davis Research doesn’t provide specific stock recommendations, examples of widely-held stocks in these two industry groups include Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s.

Digging further, Stonecypher also found that small-cap stocks have tended to markedly lag the large-caps during deflationary periods. The most pronounced periods of deflation in U.S. history came during the early 1930s, the late 1930s, and immediately after World War II. On average in those three cases, he found, small-cap stocks lagged the large caps by 13% per year.

Finally, Stonecypher suspects that the companies whose stocks perform the best during deflationary periods are those with the lowest debt/equity ratios. This makes sense in theory, he argues, because deflation makes it more difficult for debt to be repaid. (He was unable to confirm this theory, however, since he doesn’t have industry sector debt-to-equity data for the 1930s.)

The bottom line? It is possible to be gravely concerned about the prospects of outright deflation and still invest in equities. If you harbor such concerns but don’t want to give up completely on stocks, you might want to shift some of your equity holdings into the Consumer Staples and Health Care sectors, as well as shunning small-caps in favor of large-cap stocks with the lowest debt-to-equity ratios.

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