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$290 Billion Fund’s Advice To Investors: Don’t Look At Markets

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

112-year-old Scottish fund manager Baillie Gifford has seen market crises come and go before and as Covid-19, an oil-price war and fears of a U.S. recession are slamming global markets, partner Stuart Dunbar has one key piece of advice: Don’t panic.

With $290 billion under management, Dubar explained to Bloomberg (in the following edited and condensed transcript) his firm’s approach and why it’s best not to keep staring at the screens.

What should investors do in times of crisis?

The answer is, fundamentally, don’t panic. If you’re investing in a company on a 10-year view because you think it’s got wonderful opportunities and will grow to be a multiple of its current size, what’s changed in the last two months?

There are all sorts of near-term challenges. About short-term growth, about how companies are operating, about doing the right thing for stakeholders, for staff, for society in general when you’re confronted with a pandemic. Now everyone has an obligation to respond to that in a way that’s socially responsible, including this firm.

That’s what we’re in the midst of. I don’t think it makes a significant difference to whether great companies will be hugely successful in a 10-year view.

How much of the market is noise?

The market is a whole bunch of people speculating with a whole bunch of other people through the medium of share prices. That’s got very little to do with the fundamental progression of great companies. The market went up, the market went down. That’s just some kind of average measure of a bunch of people betting against each other from one day to the next. It’s really not that interesting. What ought to matter is the long term operational progression of the small number of companies that go on to be great.






Investing is capital deployment.

How are Baillie Gifford’s holdings doing?

There will be companies in our portfolios that are going to take a short-term hit on profits and growth because of coronavirus. Does that in some way completely change the long-term prospects for those companies? I can’t think of any cases where it does. Our approach to investing is such that unless the investment case is broken, if this is just noise, we’ll ignore it.

What if markets continue to sink?

If markets halve, we’re not going to sack half our people, we’re just going to make a lot less money for awhile. It’s not in the client’s interests to react in the short term to that sort of stuff. And it’s much easier to do that if you don’t have outside shareholders barking at you to try and hit profit targets every year.

What did you do in 2008?

We did absolutely nothing. Nothing. On the investment side, we took advantage of market falls to buy a bit more of companies that we liked. But I wouldn’t want to give the impression that there was a frenzy of activity. We did nothing that was out of the ordinary. We didn’t do anything in the firm. We didn’t slash costs. We didn’t make anyone redundant.

What about your bottom line?

The partners essentially said, “Even if there are no profits to share that’s okayfor a period of time because this is all about having a decent business in the long run.” It’s about doing the right thing for your staff as well. It’s about that long view. What are you going to do? Fire everyone to cut costs and hire them back 18 months later when you get busy again? I mean, it just doesn’t make sense.

Predictions?

The stock market will show volatility as it does. That’s just people putting a short term price on companies in the stock market. Our view would be — while in no way is this something that we should be dismissive of or not take seriously — that this too will pass.

It always does.

We’ve had SARS, we’ve had flu epidemics. We’ve had 9/11. You name it. You look back at all of these cataclysmic events and with the benefit of 10 years of hindsight, the world keeps going and great companies keep making progress.

Best advice for now?

Compel yourself to not look at what the markets are doing. That’s nearly impossible. And I’ll confess to you, I think I flipped up Bloomberg yesterday just to see if things are going up or down. If you can’t control your impulses, don’t look. If you can control your impulses, by all means look. But don’t do anything.

So Plan A is…


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