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22 nov 2019

Reasons to be cheerful about European equities

2019 has been a challenging year for European markets. The region suffered a one-two punch from lower global demand and heightened political uncertainty from Brexit and US-China trade conflict.  That combination of headwinds was enough to put investors off Europe for most of the year. However, there are now signs that the situation is stabilising – creating a potential turning point for European equities. 

European activity at a turning point

European business confidence, investments and markets were all affected by the weakness of the manufacturing sector and heightened political uncertainty in 2019. These factors pushed European activity to the verge of recession when manufacturing activity fell to a near seven-year low in September.

However, recent surveys point to a stabilisation in activity, including encouraging PMI readings. Catalysts for further upside could include an improvement in economic data, a supportive central bank, increased fiscal spending, signs of an agreement between China and the United States, and an orderly Brexit.

Policy uncertainty and European equity volatility 

           Chart 1   .

Sources: Lyxor International Asset Management, Refinitiv. Data as at 15/11/2019. The Europe policy uncertainty index is based on the average of the indices for France, Italy, Spain, Germany and the UK. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.

Why Europe benefits from a rotation to value 

European equity performance has been underwhelming over the past five years compared to other developed market equities, hit by lower EPS growth expectations from sluggish economic activity. However, it’s important to note that European indices are less exposed to growth and technology stocks than the US market – and these stocks have been key drivers of performance over the period.

Europe vs US sector breakdown


chart 2

Sources: MSCI, data as at 31/10/2019.


That trend of growth leading value now seems to be reversing. Since early September, European equity performance has been driven by a sharp rotation out of growth stocks in favour of value. Whether this rotation persists into year-end will largely depend on economic newsflow and sentiment.

Nonetheless, some factors could extend this shift, especially considering valuations and positioning, which remain quite extreme compared to historical standards. The chart below shows that European equities are still cheap on a cyclically-adjusted basis. While it would be unrealistic to expect 20-25% returns, our valuation models suggest European markets can deliver returns around 7-8% annualised over the next five years (6-7% is normal), while the US market is priced for close to zero returns.

European equities valuations remain attractive vs. their history


chart 3


PE: Price/ Earning ration, PCF: Price to Cash Flow, PBV: Price to Book Value, DY: Dividend Yield. Cyclically adjusted ratios are based on prices divided by the 10y moving average of the metric used for a selected market. All ratios are tested against their historical norm.
Source: Lyxor International Asset Management, Refinitiv, MSCI, data as at 31/10/2019. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

Some investors are changing their mind on Europe 

European equities have been unloved in 2019. Just this year alone, €80bn has been withdrawn from European equity funds1. However, moves in key European markets since September are suggesting that some bears are giving up their negative positions. 

Flows into European equities1 (EUR bn)

chart 5

1Sources: Lyxor International Asset Management, Refinitiv. Data as at 31/10/2019. Data analysis refers to Mutual funds and ETFs funds with a focus on broad European equities as defined by Lipper global classification. Data focus on global market trends. 

Focusing on the European ETF market only, inflows into developed European equity ETFs have accelerated, with €7.7bn of inflows since early September. This also includes close to €1bn inflows into European sector ETFs since the beginning of the quarter2. There was a clear preference for the most cyclical sectors (Banks and Industrials), at the expense of the most defensive (Consumer Staples and Utilities). 

2Sources: Lyxor International Asset Management, Bloomberg, data as at 18/11/2019

Lyxor view: European equities provide clear diversification benefits 

In our view, a small allocation to European equities can provide positive diversification benefits to Equities portfolios. They offer easy access to exposure to value stocks. Moreover, current market positioning and investor sentiment means than even a small improvement in sentiment could be enough to support further rotation of capital out of crowded sectors in favour of those that have been neglected. However, all this is also conditional to the state of the global economic cycle and when the next recession in the US will materialise.

At Lyxor ETF, we offer more than 40 ways to access European equities. From banks to autos, UK to France, quality to value, core to ESG – we’ve got you covered. 

Discover our far-reaching European ETFs or Watch our video for a snapshot of our range


Risk Warning

This document is for the exclusive use of investors acting on their own account and categorised either as “Eligible Counterparties” or “Professional Clients” within the meaning of Markets in Financial Instruments Directive 2014/65/EU. These products comply with the UCITS Directive (2009/65/EC). Société Générale and Lyxor International Asset Management (LIAM) recommend that investors read carefully the “investment risks” section of the product’s documentation (prospectus and KIID). The prospectus and KIID are available free of charge on www.lyxoretf.com, and upon request to client-services-etf@lyxor.com.

Except for the United-Kingdom, where this communication is issued in the UK by Lyxor Asset Management UK LLP, which is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK under Registration Number 435658, this communication is issued by Lyxor International Asset Management (LIAM), a French management company authorized by the Autorité des marchés financiers and placed under the regulations of the UCITS (2014/91/EU) and AIFM (2011/61/EU) Directives. Société Générale is a French credit institution (bank) authorised by the Autorité de contrôle prudentiel et de résolution (the French Prudential Control Authority).

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Prior to investing in the product, investors should seek independent financial, tax, accounting and legal advice. It is each investor’s responsibility to ascertain that it is authorised to subscribe, or invest into this product. This document is of a commercial nature and not of a regulatory nature. This material is of a commercial nature and not a regulatory nature. This document does not constitute an offer, or an invitation to make an offer, from Société Générale, Lyxor Asset Management (together with its affiliates, Lyxor AM) or any of their respective subsidiaries to purchase or sell the product referred to herein.

Research disclaimer

Lyxor International Asset Management (“LIAM”) or its employees may have or maintain business relationships with companies covered in its research reports. As a result, investors should be aware that LIAM and its employees may have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this report. Investors should consider this report as only a single factor in making their investment decision. Please see appendix at the end of this report for the analyst(s) certification(s), important disclosures and disclaimers. Alternatively, visit our global research disclosure website www.lyxoretf.com/compliance.

Conflicts of interest 

This research contains the views, opinions and recommendations of Lyxor International Asset Management (“LIAM”) Cross Asset and ETF research analysts and/or strategists. To the extent that this research contains trade ideas based on macro views of economic market conditions or relative value, it may differ from the fundamental Cross Asset and ETF Research opinions and recommendations contained in Cross Asset and ETF Research sector or company research reports and from the views and opinions of other departments of LIAM and its affiliates. Lyxor Cross Asset and ETF research analysts and/or strategists routinely consult with LIAM sales and portfolio management personnel regarding market information including, but not limited to, pricing, spread levels and trading activity of ETFs tracking equity, fixed income and commodity indices. Trading desks may trade, or have traded, as principal on the basis of the research analyst(s) views and reports. Lyxor has mandatory research policies and procedures that are reasonably designed to (i) ensure that purported facts in research reports are based on reliable information and (ii) to prevent improper selective or tiered dissemination of research reports. In addition, research analysts receive compensation based, in part, on the quality and accuracy of their analysis, client feedback, competitive factors and LIAM’s total revenues including revenues from management fees and investment advisory fees and distribution fees.

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