March 2020 Pricing Commentary

The month of March was challenging for global financial markets as investors assessed the spread of COVID-19 and the wide-ranging economic impact of social distancing and self-isolation. Additionally, an unexpected Saudi Arabian – Russian energy price war sent the price of crude oil tumbling to an 18 year low. These two black swan events led to extraordinary volatility during the month.

While all five ABC Funds posted negative returns for March, they outperformed their respective index benchmarks. This relative outperformance was due to our portfolios’ meaningful overweighting of “stay at home” economy stocks, which are companies that will benefit as people stay at home during the outbreak. These investments include: online retailers (Amazon and Alibaba); information technology and communication services (Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook); semiconductors (NVIDIA and Broadcom); and video game developers (Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Tencent Holdings, and Take Two Interactive). These companies have defensible moats, strong balance sheets, and should thrive in this difficult economic environment. Moreover, due to our low/non-exposure of the airlines, travel, restaurants, and the oil and gas sectors our portfolios were protected from the significant downturn of these groups.

We are heartened by our North American governments’ and central banks’ significant ongoing policy commitments, economic and financial assistance to combat the impact of COVID-19. We strongly believe in this undertaking and fully expect more assistance to come. At this point, one cannot estimate how long the virus will last nor the longevity of our global economic quarantine. What is certain is that we must be patient, understanding, and optimistic and abide by our governments’ plan of action. Despite the present turbulent period we fully expect that the global economies will recover, as they are being backstopped by significant monetary and fiscal stimulus.

Irwin A. Michael Signature

Irwin A. Michael, President
I.A. Michael Investment Counsel Ltd.

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