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Experts predict ‘stampede’ into European equities

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Henderson’s Richard Pease has predicted a ‘stampede’ into European equities as soon as the government bond bubble bursts and investors begin demanding better real returns.

Pease, director of European equities and manager of the £402m Henderson European Special Situations fund, as well as co-manager of the £828m European Growth fund, said he expects appetite for bonds to flag after yields dropped to record lows.

“One of our big European clients has €200bn in assets under management and has never had less equity investments,” he said.

“The concern is suddenly everyone will think they should not be in bonds but should have more equities, especially European equities because they have been hammered. There is a real risk of a stampede.

“I do not know if we could have 25%-30% return at some point. We could. But a 10% return annually is achievable and it is enough.”

In recent months global asset allocators have been favouring the US as Europe’s woes have worsened, but they are paying a high premium for this, according to Pease.

“People feel more comfortable about America’s growth prospects, and it is far away from the euro,” he said.

“But there is a big premium to be paid. It is better to look at where a company is doing business rather than its place of birth.”

Following this view, Pease has been trying to escape the chaos in the eurozone by focusing on companies with a global reach in terms of revenue. However, he said a lot of corporate Europe is actually doing well, with net cash on many firms’ balance sheets, double digit yields and underlying free cashflow.

The macro backdrop, political issues and currency fears are no secret, and consequently are more than discounted in the price of stocks, Pease added.

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