(Bloomberg) — Money manager Bill Gross says investors should favor gold and real estate while avoiding most stocks and bonds trading at inflated prices.
"I don't like bonds; I don't like most stocks; I don't like private equity," Gross, who runs the $1.5 billion Janus Global Unconstrained Bond Fund, wrote in his monthly investment outlook Wednesday. "Real assets such as land, gold and tangible plant and equipment at a discount are favored asset categories."
The views echo concerns expressed by managers including TCW Group's Tad Rivelle and Oaktree Capital Group's Howard Marks as stocks reached record highs and bond yields plunged to historic lows amid sluggish economic growth. "Sell everything," DoubleLine Capital's Jeffrey Gundlach told Reuters last week. "Nothing looks good here."
Gross's unconstrained fund returned 4% this year through Aug. 1, outperforming 69 percent of its Bloomberg peers. Its largest investments as of June 30 included shares of SABMiller, bonds from Ally Financial and Ford Motor Credit and the sovereign debt of Mexico and Argentina. The fund, with roughly half of its money coming from Gross's personal fortune, has earned 3% since he took over in October 2014 after leaving Pimco.
Gross also oversees the $335 million Old Mutual Total Return USD Bond Fund, an Ireland-based fund that was up about 6.6% this year after fees, compared with a 4.6% gain for the Pimco Total Return Fund, which he ran for decades and built into the world's largest mutual fund at one time.
The 72-year-old manager has been reiterating cautious views as markets rally.
"Sovereign bond yields at record lows aren't worth the risk and are therefore not top of my shopping list right now; it's too risky," Gross said in a statement released Tuesday by Old Mutual Global Investors. "Low yields mean bonds are especially vulnerable because a small increase can bring a large decline in price."
In his August outlook for Janus Capital Group, Gross said the financial system won't break down immediately. The time will come "when investable assets pose too much risk for too little return."
Low interest rates already hurt returns for banks, insurance companies, pension funds and individual savers, according to Gross. Central banks haven't figured out an end game for their efforts to stimulate economies by buying sovereign debt and other investments that are failing to prove effective.
"Central bank 'promises' of eventually selling the debt back into the private market are just that — promises/promises that can never be kept," he wrote.
Nominal growth, according to the fund manager, needs to reach 4% to 5% in the U.S., 3% to 4% in Europe and 2% to 3% in Japan before the global economy "devolves into Ponzi finance, and at some point implodes."