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U.K. Small Caps: Mind the Gap!

Why Disruptive Innovation Matters to Advisors

Navigating Climate Risk with Indices

The Good Days of Yesteryear

Introducing the S&P Transportation Select Industry FMC Capped Index

U.K. Small Caps: Mind the Gap!

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Sherifa Issifu

Associate, Index Investment Strategy

S&P Dow Jones Indices

A gap between the 12-month performances of the S&P United Kingdom SmallCap and S&P United Kingdom SmallCap Select Index hints at a “junk rally” in U.K. stocks, but the longer-term data suggests that those looking to participate in an ongoing recovery in the world’s fourth-largest economy might be wise to maintain a selective approach.

As the global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic continues, the U.K. economy has picked up a head of steam, with the Bank of England forecasting over 4% GDP growth in Q2 alone. The pound sterling has surged to a near three-year high versus the U.S. dollar and, although the local equity markets aren’t quite back to pre-pandemic levels, they appear to be on the right track, with the S&P United Kingdom BMI adding 11% so far in 2021. Carrying a natural domestic focus and higher gearing to the economy, small-cap companies are benefiting the most from the optimism and the British “recovery trade,” outperforming the broad market index by five percentage points YTD.

However, within small-cap U.K. equities, there has also been something of a junk rally, with the outperformance of lower-quality stocks creating a more than 5% performance gap over the past year between the S&P United Kingdom SmallCap and the S&P United Kingdom SmallCap Select Index, the latter of which is designed to measure constituents of the S&P United Kingdom SmallCap with a track record of positive earnings. This echoes a recent inverse relationship between profitability and performance on the other side of the pond that we highlighted in May’s S&P 500 Factor Dashboard.

So, is there still a benefit to be gained by screening out the lower-quality names from small caps? As a recap for those who might not have met our “select” range of global small-cap indices, they are formed from their respective small-cap universes (in this case, the smallest 15% of companies by capitalization in the broad-based S&P United Kingdom BMI) by requiring two consecutive years of positive earnings per share at the point of index entry. Companies are also dropped if they post two consecutive years of negative earnings, while, to aid market participants hoping to replicate the index’s return, the smallest 20% and least liquid 20% of companies are excluded.

The potential benefits of the “select” methodology are illustrated in Exhibit 4, which plots the difference in five-year annualized returns between the S&P United Kingdom SmallCap and S&P United Kingdom SmallCap Select Index over the past 15 years. The S&P United Kingdom SmallCap Select Index outperformed across every rolling five-year interval including, despite the recent rally in unprofitable companies, the period ending in May 2021. Further, the winds may have changed, with the series appearing to take on an upward trend early in 2021.

The booming prospects for the world’s fourth-largest equity market may be tempting market participants to return to U.K. equities after a long period in the doldrums, and smaller U.K. companies may be well positioned to participate in growth. But it is worth emphasizing that while unprofitable companies may be currently in the lead this year, filtering out less profitable firms has, over the long term, made a big and positive difference in small caps.

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.

Why Disruptive Innovation Matters to Advisors

Ric Edelman, Founder of RIA Digital Assets Council, explores the new economy, its potential sources of growth, and the importance of “future proofing” client strategies.

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.

Navigating Climate Risk with Indices

How can indices bring greater transparency to climate risk? Designed to go beyond the requirements of EU Low Carbon Benchmark minimum standards, the S&P Paris-Aligned & Climate Transition Indices were created to help market participants looking to chart a path to net zero by 2050.

 

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.

The Good Days of Yesteryear

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Fei Mei Chan

Director, Index Investment Strategy

S&P Dow Jones Indices

With the S&P/TSX Composite Index up 16% YTD through June 17, 2021, the Canadian equity market seems to have put the pandemic in the rearview mirror. In this environment, predictably, the S&P/TSX Composite Low Volatility Index underperformed, up 11% over the same period. One-year volatility levels (no longer capturing the uncontrolled panic at the onset of the pandemic) have dropped significantly across all sectors of the market, and are now back to levels similar to those of February 2020.

Volatility at the sector level provides a good proxy for the weight shifts in the latest rebalance for the S&P/TSX Composite Low Volatility Index effective following the close of trading on June 18, 2021. Not surprisingly, shifts in sector weights were significant. The historical stalwarts in the index resumed their substantial weighting, with Financials, Real Estate, and Utilities making up the three largest sectors. Communication Services and Information Technology, sectors that became a lot more relevant in the context of a lockdown, have scaled back significantly. Health Care, the sector with the highest volatility, still holds no weight in the index.

 

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.

Introducing the S&P Transportation Select Industry FMC Capped Index

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Rachel Du

Senior Analyst, Global Research & Design

S&P Dow Jones Indices

The Transportation industry group1 provides transportation infrastructure as well as services to move people or goods. To track the industry group’s performance, S&P Dow Jones Indices offers the S&P Transportation Select Industry Index, S&P Transportation Select Industry FMC Index, and the Dow Jones Transportation Average. To address potential weight concentration issues in the FMC-weighted index, S&P Transportation Select Industry FMC Capped Index was launched on April 26, 2021. In this blog, we introduce this new index.

Exhibit 1 shows the methodology comparison of the S&P Transportation Select Industry FMC Capped Index, S&P Transportation Select Industry Index, and Dow Jones Transportation Average.

Universe

The S&P Transportation Select Industry FMC Capped Index includes all the sub-industries of the Transportation industry group—Air Freight & Logistics, Airlines, Airport Services, Highways & Rail Tracks, Marine, Marine Ports & Services, Railroads, and Trucking—in the S&P Total Market Index universe.

Size and Liquidity Criteria

The eligible stocks need to meet the float-adjusted market capitalization (FMC) and float-adjusted liquidity ratio (FALR) requirements, as shown in Exhibit 1.

FMC Weighted with Capping

The S&P Transportation Select Industry FMC Capped Index is float-adjusted market cap weighted, subject to 4.5/22.5/45 capping at rebalance dates. That is, an individual constituent weight is capped at 22.5% and the aggregate weight of constituents that individually have a weight greater than 4.5% is capped at 45%. The purpose of capping is to reduce weight concentration in any single security and top holdings.

Exhibit 2 shows the weights at rebalance dates for S&P Transportation Select Industry FMC Capped Index and the corresponding FMC weights if there is no capping applied. The exhibit shows that the capping scheme reduced the concentration of the FMC weight historically.

Large Investable Capacity

The FMC capped index offers large investable capacity. Our analysis shows that even with a hypothetical fund size of USD 20 billion, all constituent holdings would still be below 5% of their corresponding FMC (see Exhibit 3).

Exhibit 4 illustrates the return/risk performance of the S&P Transportation Select Industry FMC Capped Index, the S&P Transportation Select Industry Index, and the Dow Jones Transportation Average Index. The FMC capped index outperformed the other two indices in terms of absolute return and risk3-adjusted return during all other periods except the most recent one-year period.

Conclusion

The S&P Transportation Select FMC Capped Index is designed to track the performance of the transportation industry group and aims to reduce weight concentration issues by applying 22.5/4.5/45 capping. Our analysis shows that this index has a large investable capacity. Moreover, the index has comparable performance with other transportation indices such as the S&P Transportation Select Industry Index and the Dow Jones Transportation Average.

 

1 The GICS® classification standard is used to classify a company by its principal business activity. Each company is assigned to a sub-industry, an industry, an industry group, and a sector.

2 FALR is defined as dollar value traded over the previous 12 months divided by the FMC as of the rebalancing reference date.

3 Risk is calculated as annualized standard deviation of monthly total returns.

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.