A2 Milk. Photo Supplied
With only four weeks to the end of the year, our sharemarket is likely to finish on a reasonable note.
Share prices are up more than 5 per cent; though most of that has been since August. Add in the dividend yield of at least 4 per cent and that’s a total return of about 9 per cent.
Our market lifted strongly through October and broke through 6000 points in early November, though it has pulled back a little since then.
As I have written, I am not expecting our market to sustain levels above the record of just-over 6800 points it reached on November 1, 2007, for a long time yet.
But behind the headline numbers of the market overall, CommSec chief economist Craig James has found that since the end of August, the share prices of smaller companies, those in the Small Ordinaries index, have lifted by 9.6 per cent.
Over the same period, share prices of the biggest-50 companies have lifted by only 3.7 per cent.
Smaller companies, as least as far as the index is concerned, have really struggled over the past decade.
Over the 10 years to October 31 this year, the S&P/ASX Small Ordinaries Accumulation Index (which includes dividends) produced an annual average compound return of minus 1.34 per cent.
James reckons the run in smaller companies shows investors are prepared to take on the higher risk that’s inherent in investing in smaller companies because of record low n interest rates, low returns elsewhere on n investments and firmer global growth.
He notes a number of small cap stocks are among the most-traded stocks on the CommSec sharebroking service, including A2 Milk and Pilbara Minerals.
Over the last three months, the share price of A2 Milk, the baby formula maker, has lifted by 51 per cent.
Pilbara Minerals, a player in tantalum which is used in electronics, is up about 170 per cent.
The n economy is in fairly good shape with consumer confidence improving just in time for the Christmas spending period.
While the jobs market is improving I do wonder if the employment figures are really capturing the full extent of under-employment.
And while the earnings of n-listed companies are certainly growing, they are generally growing less quickly than other developed-country markets. Most market watchers expect that to continue next year.
Wilson Asset Management founder and chairman Geoff Wilson reckons there are some positives from this year that will likely persist in next year.
The rebound of the mining sector, increased capital expenditure as well as the domestic infrastructure boom and strong growth in China were positive themes to emerge in 2017, he says. Wilson expects these themes to continue in the year ahead.
Despite the generally pessimistic view on n company earnings, they might surprise as capital investment by them is rising, he says.
“This may suggest is joining the global business investment recovery and has the potential to drive company earnings growth,” Wilson says.