Templetons Myers: S&P 500 Holding $1 Trillion in Cash
Lisa Myers, manager of the $959 million Templeton Income Fund, and in Canada, of the Templeton Growth Fund, was in New York this summer and we had a visit.
It was my first meeting with Myers, who usually works from the Bahamas, where the late Sir John had made his home. (She moved there for personal reasons, however, before joining Templeton.)
“I live in a suitcase,” she says, as she explained that all Templeton portfolio managers serve as analysts as well.
In her analyst role, Myers covers consumer goods: global retail, textiles and apparel, luxury goods, food and more. The field, she says, has more going on than canned goods: “It’s a continuum of change as consumers change—outsourcing, logistics, online commerce, branding—a very dynamic sector.” Best of all, she adds, “I get paid to shop.” In her analyst role, she makes recommendations for all portfolios; in other sectors, she must follow the recommendations of Templeton’s other analysts.
In her fund manager role, Myers invests with a five-year horizon. Although she’s looking at “valuation, valuation, valuation,” she says, nevertheless macro factors come into play when you’re looking that far out.
So I asked Myers to share her global perspective in light of heavy indebtedness in so much of the developed world. Although she’s concerned about volatility over the long-term—there’s so much bad news out there—over the longer term she’s bullish.
Myers’ first point is that sovereign concerns alone do not make an investment policy: “You don’t want to focus so closely on sovereign issues that you lose sight of great global brands,” she says. “There’s a lot of value.” As a committed bottom-up investor, the corporations themselves are her primary focus.Then she got big picture. “While developed markets have very significant debt issues—as do global consumers as debt carriers—contrast that with corporations around the world, which have more cash than in decades,” she says. For example, the S & P 500 has about $1 trillion in cash, Myers observes; the Europe has about 800 million euros.
Then there are China’s immense cash reserves. “These are very deep pockets of cash to invest in global brands and businesses. So over the longer term, equity makes sense as a store of value.”