Having plummeted more than 25%* in the space of just a month, the world’s stocks markets – panicked by the onset of the global pandemic - bottomed on the 23 March 2020.
In the 12 months since, global equities have rallied more than 46%**, with smaller companies once again proving they are the place to be invested in a stock market recovery.
The three top performing sectors in the Investment Association groupings over the past year have been IA North American Smaller Companies (up 86.8%**), IA UK Smaller Companies (up 83.8%**) and IA European Smaller Companies (up 69.8%**).
In contrast, the average fund in the IA Technology and Telecommunications sector – an area full of names that have been beneficiaries of the pandemic – is up 65.3%**.
Darius McDermott, managing director of Chelsea Financial Services, commented: “Stock market recoveries happen when investors are more optimistic about the future and believe that things are improving. Sometimes they occur earlier – when things stop getting worse.
“Smaller companies are considered higher risk. As investors become more confident in the future, they are happy to take on higher risk assets and therefore allocate more to smaller companies.”
|1||IA North American Smaller Companies||86.8%|
|2||IA UK Smaller Companies||83.8%|
|3||IA European Smaller Companies||69.8%|
|4||IA Technology & Telecommunications||65.3%|
|5||IA Asia Pacific ex Japan||55.7%|
|6||IA UK All Companies||54.5%|
|7||IA Asia Pacific inc Japan||53.9%|
|8||IA Japanese Smaller Companies||53.5%|
|9||IA Global Emerging Markets||52.3%|
|10||IA North American||51.5%|
|1||Legg Mason Royce US Small Cap Opportunity||147.4%|
|2||Baillie Gifford American||139.7%|
|3||Guinness Sustainable Energy||122.1%|
|4||Thesis Stonehage Fleming AIM||120.0%|
|5||ASI UK Unconstrained Equity||113.0%|
|6||Premier Miton US Smaller Companies||112.7%|
|7||TM Crux UK Special Situations||112.0%|
|8||Thesis Stonehage Fleming Opportunities||111.3%|
|9||Threadneedle American Smaller Companies||109.4%|
|10||VT Cape Wrath Focus||106.8%|
Equities were not the only asset class to fall in early 2020. In fact, every asset class saw its value drop.
But having enjoyed a bull market for almost four decades previously, the correction in bond markets created what some investors at the time described as “the bargain of the century". Chris Bowie, manager of TwentyFour Corporate Bond fund said: “Investors should be hoarding credit like they’re hoarding toilet rolls.”
While equity returns were far higher as you would expect, corporate bonds have performed well over the year – despite their recent wobble due to inflation fears.
The IA Sterling High Yield Bond sector had the best performance for the fixed income asset class, up 30.0%**. Second was IA Sterling Strategic Bond (15.0%**) and third was IA Sterling Corporate Bond (10.9%**).
Darius McDermott added: “High yield bonds are more economically sensitive than other parts of the bond market. As the economic picture improves, the chances of high yield companies going bust reduces and investors get more confident, allocating more money their way.”
|1||IA Sterling High Yield Bond||30.0%|
|2||IA Sterling Strategic Bond||15.0%|
|3||IA Sterling Corporate Bond||10.9%|
|4||IA Global EM Bonds Hard Currency||9.4%|
|5||IA Global EM Bonds Blended||8.7%|
|6||IA UK Index Linked Gilts||5.6%|
|7||IA Global EM Bonds Local Currency||3.5%|
|8||IA Global Bonds||1.8%|
|1||Man GLG High Yield Opportunities||49.7%|
|2||Schroder High Yield Opportunities||39.7%|
|3||Aegon High Yield Bond||38.5%|
|4||L&G High Income Trust||36.6%|
|5||Royal London Global High Yield Bond||36.5%|
|6||Barings Developed and Emerging Markets High Yield Bond||36.4%|
|7||GS ESG-Enhanced Europe High Yield Bond Portfolio||35.0%|
|8||ASI European High Yield Bond||34.8%|
|9||Baring Global High Yield Bond||33.6%|
|10||JPM Global High Yield Bond||33.5%|
*Source: FE fundinfo, total returns in sterling, MSCI World index 20 February 2020 to 23 March 2021
**Source: FE fundinfo, total returns in sterling, 23 March 2020 to 22 March 2021
***Source: FE fundinfo, total returns in sterling, 23 March 2020 to 22 March 2021 – funds available on the Aegon platform
Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. You may not get back the amount originally invested, and tax rules can change over time. Darius’s views are his own and do not constitute financial advice.