European Equity Investors Go Small

Despite the fact the economic outlook looks gloomy across the European Union, the low valuations of European small and mid-cap stocks have caught the eye of many an investor, as their relatively low valuation has ignited long-term interest. Whilst recent banking upheaval promoted thoughts of a credit crunch, and recent anxieties regarding an economic slowdown favoured “defensives over cyclicals” *, the smaller European companies have seen valuations sink.

*Defensive stocks are those companies that are recognised to have defensive earnings, that do not really equate to the economic cycle. Such companies usually supply necessities that consumers will not cut back in times of a downturn in the economy. These necessities are typically power, such as electricity and gas, healthcare and certain foodstuffs. 

 *Cyclical stocks are those companies that are recognised as being more exposed to the economic cycle. Thus, when economic conditions are on a downward cycle, these companies are likely to see a drop off in earnings, but if economic conditions are on an upward cycle, then conversely earnings will increase. Such companies are recognised as being in the travel, construction and luxury goods sector.

Many European focused investors suggest that while the current economic slowdown persists, the current price of SMIDs (Small-Mid Capitalisation), have already had much of the risk factored into their price. The thinking therefore is that should Europe enter into a prolonged recession, SMIDs will have less downside than the larger companies or stocks.

In the AI (Artificial Intelligence) sector, breakthroughs in generative AI (algorithms that can be used to create new content such as images, text, simulations, video and audio), have in recent months kept investors focused on mega-stocks. However, from an AI angle those SMIDs that have available resources to invest in AI will hold an advantage over those who lack the same resources.

Expert analysts suspect that European economic data will get worse over the next three months especially as data recently released shows the EuroZone suffering from a technical recession, where there has been negative growth in real GDP in two consecutive quarters. When the data shows an economic upswing across the EuroZone, the revival of small caps will begin, and the same analysts suggest that this will provide a rich hunting ground for those long-term focused investors.