• The (multi) trillion dollar question is how likely Trump’s tax reform is to occur and when?
  • Hawkish commentary is positive for banks but negative for valuations of high growth stocks like FANGs
  • Potential for further dollar strength a boost for UK investors

The Miton US Opportunities Fund has reached over £300 million in assets under management as a result of its distinctive multi-cap approach and strong performance, returning 99.4% since launch on 18 March 2013 compared to 82.8% for the IA North American sector (in Sterling terms). Fund managers Nick Ford and Hugh Grieves outline their latest market views and how the fund is positioned to capture future growth. In particular, they identify the key areas of tax, interest rates, currency and GDP growth. 

On tax: 

“The long awaited unveiling of Trump’s tax reforms puts tax back at the forefront of US investors’ minds. A significant drop in corporation tax is an immediate benefit to share prices. Further out, cutting consumers’ tax bills at the expense of running a higher fiscal deficit is also highly reflationary, and a positive boost to corporate earnings. The (multi) trillion dollar question is how likely this reform is to occur and when? The Republican majorities in the House and the Senate, combined with their need to get some major legislation passed before the mid-term elections next year, gives us reasonable optimism that the measures, while likely watered down, will get passed.

On interest rates:

“The recent hawkish commentary from Janet Yellen, that it’s important for the Fed not to fall behind the curve in raising interest rates, has triggered the market to reappraise its expectations and the yield curve has steepened sharply as a result. While this is positive for banks’ fundamentals, it’s a negative for the valuations of high growth stocks like the FANGs. Any significant increase in the fiscal deficit resulting from tax cuts, combined with the stimulatory impact this would have on the already strong economy, would result in the yield curve steepening further.

On currency:

“Sterling strength has been a headwind to UK investors this year. If US rates continue to rise, the dollar will likely strengthen from its current level, giving UK investors a currency gain. The US dollar weakness has also been a tailwind for the profits of larger, more international companies versus more domestic, smaller companies. The reversal in the trend in an ever-weaker dollar is therefore a positive for the relative performance of smaller companies’ share prices.

On GDP growth:

“US economic fundamentals remain exceedingly sound with economic growth accelerating from a minor slowdown in Q1 to reach 3.1% in Q2, the highest quarterly growth rate since the start of 2015. The economy continues to add workers at a healthy clip and we expect to see the tighter labour market feed through to higher wages, which in turn will flow through to higher consumer spending, boosting the economy further. Against this backdrop, management of companies we’ve met recently remain optimistic about the outlook for the next 12 months.

“The current environment should be supportive of continued, healthy corporate profit growth in the near to medium-term; we believe our fund is well positioned to benefit given our multi-cap approach and significant weighting in domestically orientated small and mid-cap stocks. Robust corporate earnings growth, combined with a stronger US dollar, gives UK based investors a positive background for investing.”

The fund currently comprises 42 stocks with top 10 holdings including Vantiv (debit and credit card processor), Eagle Materials Inc, WEX (payment solutions) and FedEx. Recent purchases include Bank of America, and Pool Corp.

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