Goldman Calls Out Active Fund Managers Over Missed Opportunities

(Bloomberg) - Stock investors should avoid companies with greater exposure to wage inflation, with margins a key differential for 2022 after active fund managers missed out on outperformance opportunities last year, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

With economic growth slowing, many companies will see limited sales gains, so the ability for firms to navigate inflation and interest rates will be crucial, Goldman strategists led by David Kostin wrote in a note Sunday. The strategists added that typical stock returns were becoming less influenced by macro factors.

Last year, just 20% of large-cap core mutual funds outperformed the S&P 500, compared with the historical average of 32%, while only 15% of growth mutual funds outperformed their benchmarks, Goldman said. Value managers fared better with 56% outperforming the style benchmark, compared with the average of 41%, the strategists wrote.

Strategists start 2022 with far less clarity in terms of central-bank policy and pandemic trajectory than they appeared to have last year. One of the top wild cards remains inflation, and how that plays out with issues like supply chains, wages and Federal Reserve policy. Many market forecasters are predicting, at the least, higher volatility in the year ahead.

“Stock return dispersion will be most evident when viewed through the margin channel,” the strategists wrote, forecasting margin expansion of 40 basis points to 12.6% for S&P 500 companies. The path of interest rates this year will also have a significant impact, they said, after “sharp reversals in bond yields during 2021 drove large factor rotations within the equity market.”

By Joanna Ossinger


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