Market Share: The Next Secular Investment Theme

It is well known that corporate profit margins are at record highs. US margins, developed market margins, and even emerging market margins are generally either at or close to record highs. A myopic focus on profit margins may miss an important investment consideration. Whereas most investors remain fearful of margin compression, we prefer to search for an investment theme that could emerge if margins do indeed compress. Accordingly, our investment focus has shifted toward themes based on companies who might gain market share.

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Equity Bubble? No.

The US stock market performed very well during 2013. The S&P 500®’s total return of nearly 33% far outpaced the returns of most asset classes. A growing contingent of market observers is fearful that the US equity market is in some sort of a bubble. We disagree completely with this notion. A strong market rally that many investors have missed is hardly sufficient grounds for a financial bubble.

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Joseph Zidle on Fox Business

Richard Bernstein Advisors Portfolio Strategist Joseph Zidle on "Countdown to the Close" on Fox Business. Joe discusses investing in Japanese stocks, and US vs. Emerging markets.

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10 for '14

Each December we publish a list of investment themes that we feel are critical to the coming year. Here are our themes for 2014.

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Like a Shakespearean Script

Shakespearean plays follow a pattern. The underlying plots and storylines change from play to play, but the five-act construction is a common overlap. Market cycles tend to follow a similar pattern cycle after cycle. Like the different plots in various Shakespearean plays, the catalysts that begin and end each cycle, and the events during the cycle are always different. However, market cycles seem to follow a script and, so far, this cycle seems to be following the script almost perfectly.

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EM - The Growth Story That Isn't

We remain very concerned about emerging market stocks and bonds. The recent outperformance of EM stocks is again luring investors to once again touch the hot stove. Emerging markets seem to have some significant structural and cyclical issues about which investors seem unaware or seem to be ignoring.

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A Special Note on Potential Government Debt Default

We find it incredible that the government is, once again, on the verge of a default on US debt. Although we doubt that the US will actually default, it is unfathomable that elected officials would even consider such an event. Worse yet, some officials apparently believe that a default might benefit the US.

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Global Sea Change Continues

Our long-standing theme has been that the US stock market is again a growth market. Whereas investors generally still believe that the emerging markets are a growth story, the data increasingly suggest that growth is now predominantly in the developed markets. When it comes to quality, transparency, and consistency of growth, the US seems to stand above other markets.

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