Uncertainty in market leaves long-term investors spoiled for choice - industry leaders

By Nona Pelletier RNZ

Investors will be spoiled for choice as ongoing market volatility offers up some high-quality assets at bargain prices, say industry leaders.

Rising inflation and interest rates, an easing in the labour market and falling property prices, amid one of the most anticipated recessions in living memory, offered a range of investment opportunities for the most conservative or high roller investor, they said.

"I like these periods of uncertainty where markets don't really know what's coming," Craigs Investment Partners investment director Mark Lister said.

"So I think for long-term investors, they need to be cautious, be sensible, be disciplined, but also don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

Devon Funds head of retail Greg Smith said investors should also be aware much of the bad economic news forecast for this year had already been priced into the market.

"Pretty dire outcomes have been priced in and you've got some pretty high quality companies in New Zealand that are trading at a lot lower levels than they were a year ago. So there's some opportunity there for new investors," Smith said.

Lister said the risk profile was different for young investors compared with those investors with a short-term horizon, such as older people looking to retire soon.

"It's probably the most important question that people need to think about," he said.

"If you're on the cusp of retirement or you're nearing retirement, you shouldn't be in risk assets like shares or property to a large degree."

Lister said there were lower-risk options, such as fixed income investments.

"While it's [that investment category has] also had a rough ride, it's actually looking fairly good at the moment and it's much more predictable and stable and doesn't exhibit that same volatility."

However, he said there was a lot of choice for younger people and others with a longer investment horizon of 5 to 10 years.

"I think they should look forward to periods of uncertainty," Lister said, adding that blue chip companies were a personal favourite.

"A sweet spot for many of us, is those companies that give you a dividend of some degree. Maybe it's 2 or 3 percent, which isn't significant, but it's pleasing to still get those quarterly or six-monthly dividend cheques rolling in the door and you also get a reasonable growth profile with with it," Lister said.

Those companies included those with good management, low debt levels, strong cash flows, high dividends and growth prospects, such as Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Port of Tauranga, Ryman Healthcare, Ebos, Mainfreight, Freightways, Infratil, Spark and some of the the electricity companies.

"I think all of those companies fit the bill and look right at home in a New Zealand portfolio of blue chips," he said.

"There's so many companies out there in the world that are fantastic."

Smith said the economic environment was not ideal for fresh initial public offerings of shares coming to market.

However, he said there would likely be some interest in the likely float of airline Virgin Australia on Australia's ASX as tourism bounced back.

He also said the economy might prove to be more resilient than forecast.

"China is a bit of wild card," Smith said.

"China has lagged on the reopening and it is only really just reopening up to the world. So that's that's a big positive as the global economy heads into a tricky year."

He said China was a key customer for New Zealand exporters.

"That could be a tailwind to a number of companies; that China reopening is also likely to help bring down inflation as well, which is going to be really important to a number of sectors," Smith said.

"There could be some good opportunities to make money if you're taking a 12-month view."