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戴维•希罗:执掌奥克马克国际基金的逆向投资者

Scott Cendrowski 2011年03月11日

最近,这位最佳基金经理正避开炙手可热的新兴市场,而青睐看似病入膏肓的(欧洲银行)或是奄奄一息的(日本公司)的股票。

    戴维•希罗的逆向投资之道有多与众不同?最近,这位基金经理正避开炙手可热的新兴市场,而青睐看似病入膏肓的(欧洲银行)或是奄奄一息的(日本公司)的股票。从希罗的战绩中可以了解他的疯狂程度。

    自奥克马克国际基金(Oakmark International Fund)于1992年成立以来,希罗一直负责管理其80亿美元的资金,过去十年的年回报率为9%,高于98%的同业竞争对手。他的战绩最近进一步提升:奥克马克国际基金最近被晨星(Morningstar)评选为所属类别中近一年、三年以及五年以来的最佳基金。去年,晨星还提名希罗为“十年最佳国际股票基金经理”。

    这样的成绩对于一个原本打算成为专业学者的人来说,还算不错。希罗在25岁时放弃攻读美国威斯康星大学麦迪逊分校的经济学博士学位,开始管理机构资金。他表示:“我当时想,‘不发表即灭亡’的学术生涯真让人受不了”。他曾料想自己会在某个时候重返校园,但这一直没有成真。

    希罗的标志性风格是远离他人热捧的领域,并投资于他人不看好的领域。在2007年股市呈现一派繁荣景象时,他警告基金持有者,称认为他能不断取得巨大收益的想法十分荒谬。现在,他则告诉投资者们,不会出现另一个“失落的十年”。

    我们询问这位现年50岁、住在芝加哥的价值投资者,在眼下动荡的环境中,他觉得何处存在风险和潜力。

    问:让我们先谈一下新闻。大宗商品价格通胀正导致埃及等国家的不安局面。你对此怎么看?

    答:大宗商品价格波动、政局不稳、货币问题无疑存在——这些问题在过去一直存在,在将来也将继续存在。这是不利的一面。但积极的一面是,全球GDP正以每年大约4.5%至5%的速度增长。对于生存其中的公司来说,现在这个环境还不错。我们认为,这些宏观现象中的大部分在实质上都是周期性或者短期的,而非结构性的。因此,实际上我很喜欢这一点。环境越不稳定而且波动越大,我觉得越好。这提供了更多长期投资的机会。

    这就是尽管欧洲尚未完全从债务危机中复苏,但你将三分之二的资金投资于该地区的原因?

    如果你看一下在这次短暂主权债务风暴中遭受重创的一些金融机构,例如西班牙国家银行(Banco Santander)和法国巴黎银行(BNP Paribas),就能发现它们实际上并没有主权债务的问题。即便是瑞士私人银行瑞信(Credit Suisse)和瑞银(UBS),也看起来更像是资产管理公司。它们的净资金流入保持正向,现在这些具有良好盈利流的公司正以7、8倍的市盈率进行交易。法国巴黎银行和西班牙国家银行就是“与垃圾一起被扔掉的宝石”。

    西班牙国家银行是一家西班牙银行,其70%的经营收益来自西班牙以外国家。超过一半的经营收益来自新兴世界。但市场只将其视为“大型西班牙银行”。市场人士的观点是:“脆弱的金融领域:卖出。”而我们就可以从这一短期的浮躁中获益。上述金融机构是优质机构:资本较为雄厚,贷款亏损较少,成本收益比率较低。它们的业务开展情况良好,并且有能力从中挖掘利润。

    在金融业中,爱尔兰银行是你持有的跌幅最大的股票之一。看来爱尔兰经济状况依然十分糟糕。乐观情景是什么?

    如果你向后看,这的确糟糕透顶。但如果展望未来,只有一家银行不会受到爱尔兰政府控制。我们认为爱尔兰不会崩溃,而爱尔兰银行将能从这场危机中存活下来。现在来看,我们一度犯下了一个严重错误。当我们持有这只股票并看到其上涨时,原本应当抛出。但我们没有这么做。但随后我们在它下跌时再次买入,并且在其下跌过多之前大量抛售。这只股票的走势反复不定,使我们实际上得以在低迷时期赚了一些钱。

    在你的前五大持股中,包括丰田(Toyota)和佳能(Canon)在内的四只股票都是日本公司。买入的原因是什么?

    让我告诉你一个有趣的故事。当我于上世纪80年代在威斯康辛州投资委员会工作时,日本占国际指数的60%,而我对日本的投资为零。其他人常常说,“这么做非常冒险”。我却说,“对市盈率达到60或70倍的日本公司进行投资,才是风险十足。”那时日本股票的平均回报率为5%。在我看来,其中毫无价值可言。

    自那以后,日本公司的市净率由4至5倍下降至1倍以下,而股本收益率开始攀升。它们的市净率按理不应降至这一水平,但你开始发现股本收益率达到15%至20%的某些公司,例如佳能。我们认为,低价并不意味着被低估。你必须寻觅满足以下条件的公司:(a) 它正以低价被抛售,但是(b) 它致力于创造价值,以超额现金开展某些活动,构建每股账面价值,并且取得良好的股本回报率。当我们首次(至少是自二十世纪80年代中旬以来首次)能够寻获这样的公司时,我开始进行投资。

    你并未持有任何中国股票,而你买入的唯一新兴市场股票是韩国和墨西哥股票。为什么会这样?

    原因是价格对于我们来说至关重要。在上世纪90年代末,我们拥有20%至30%的新兴市场敞口,人们当时觉得我们疯了。那个时候,新兴市场股市刚刚经历了崩溃,股价极其便宜。现如今,这些市场极度狂热,我们削减了相关投资,原因是公司价值已在股价中得到体现。投资者必须将有吸引力的股票和有吸引力的宏观经济状况区分开来,但他们却将此混为一谈。我们目前对新兴市场的投资可能是有史以来的最低水平。

    每个人都在嚷着,“中国,中国,中国!”确实,中国正以每年8%至10%的速度增长,我喜欢这一情况。但是,你觉得是应当通过买入某些中国国有企业的股票来进行投资,但这些企业并不关心股东利益、透明度很低并且当前的市盈率高达25倍?还是应当买入某家公司的股票,该公司的市值不足现金流的10倍,并且30%以上的利润来自新兴市场和中国?达能(Danone)、帝亚吉欧(Diageo)和雀巢(Nestlé)等公司就属于后一种情况。它们有着极大的新兴市场敞口,这应会给它们带来显著的增长。

    世界经济存在着严重的不平衡。美国仍然承受着巨大的债务负担。几乎每种衡量标准都显示,中国货币被低估。通胀是新兴世界面临的一大忧虑。今后最危险的一点是什么?

    最危险的是全球保护主义,该问题由于没有在上一次危机中爆发,所以有些被人们忽略了 。阻止商品、服务以及资本的跨界自由流动是十分危险的,因为想要使市场发挥作用,你就必须令套利发挥作用。你需要操盘手、投资者以及其他利用不平衡状况的人。

    其次,美国依然是世界上最大的经济体。我的担忧是,如果我们无法控制权力问题以及支出问题,人们将会惧怕国债拍卖,我们将会陷入一个恶性循环,该循环将会对美国经济乃至全球经济造成打击。长期利率将会大幅上升,从而进一步摧毁房地产市场。它将摧毁债券市场。它将引发大量害怕和恐慌,从而损害预期并打击信心。我相信我们将解决该问题,但如果我们无法解决,那么将付出惨重的代价。

    现在最糟糕的领域是什么?

    能源、自然资源。人们看到新兴市场的需求仍在增长,并且认为这将转化为全球需求增长,而事实却并非如此。发达国家的某些此类需求实际上正在下滑。例如,拿原油需求来说,目前每天的原油需求在8500-8600万桶左右。过去十年中,每年的原油需求增长基本不会超出1%或2%。而如果看一下能源效率以及能源安全要求方面的情况,以及人们对绿色科技的信任,就知道近期内原油需求不会大幅增长。

    How much of a contrarian is David Herro? These days the fund manager is eschewing scorching emerging markets in favor of the seemingly toxic (European banks) or moribund (Japanese companies). Herro's record suggests a method to his madness.

    He has managed the $8 billion Oakmark International Fund (OAKIX) since its founding in 1992, returning 9% annually over the past 10 years to trounce 98% of competitors. Herro's recent record is even stronger: Oakmark ranks No. 1 in its Morningstar category over the past one-, three-, and five-year periods. Last year Morningstar named Herro its International Stock Manager of the Decade.

    Not bad for someone who had planned to be an academic. Herro left the University of Wisconsin-Madison's economics doctorate program at 25 years old -- "I thought, 'This publish or perish is too much'" -- to get his start managing institutional money. He figured he'd return to school at some point, but he's never been back.

    Herro's trademark is avoiding what others love and going where others won't. When stock markets were prosperous in 2007, Herro warned his shareholders how ridiculous it would be to think he could keep posting enormous gains. Now he's telling investors not to expect another lost decade.

    We asked the Chicago-based, 50-year-old value investor where he sees risk and potential in a tumultuous world.

    Q. Let's start with the news. Commodity inflation is contributing to unrest in countries like Egypt and elsewhere. How do you deal with it?

    A.Commodity prices, political instability, monetary problems are certainly out there --they always have been out there, and in fact, they always will be out there. That's the negative. The positive is that global GDP is growing at roughly 4.5% to 5% a year. That's not a bad place for companies to exist in. We think most of these macro phenomena are cyclical or short term in nature and not structural. So actually I like it. The more instability and volatility, the better. It provides for more long-term investment opportunity.

    Is that why two-thirds of your holdings are in Europe, which is still recovering from the debt crisis?

    When you look at some of the financials that got hit really hard in this little sovereign-debt tornado -- companies like Banco Santander (STD) and BNP Paribas -- they don't actually have sovereign-debt problems. Even the Swiss private banks -- Credit Suisse (CS) and UBS (UBS) -- are more asset-management companies. Net inflows stayed positive, and now we have companies that are trading at seven, eight times earnings with good earnings streams. BNP and Santander are the babies that got thrown out with the bath water.

    Santander is a Spanish bank and earns 70% of its operating income from outside Spain. More than half comes from the emerging world. Yet the market sees "big Spanish bank." They think, "Fragile financial sector: Sell." We can take advantage of this short-term impatience. They are quality institutions: relatively well-capitalized, low loan losses, low cost/income ratios. They're good at what they do and were able to exploit it.

    Within the financials, Bank of Ireland has been one of your biggest losers. It looks like the economy is still an atrocious story over there. What is the bullish case?

    If you look in the rearview mirror, it's an atrocious story. If you are looking forward, there's only one bank that won't be controlled by the government. We don't think Ireland is going to go away, and the Bank of Ireland is the surviving bank. Now we made a big error. We owned it, it went up. We should have sold it. We didn't. But then we did buy it when it was down, and we sold a bunch of it before it fell too much. The stock has been so variable, it's enabled us to actually make a little money in the downturn.

    Four of your top five holdings, including Toyota (TM) and Canon (CAJ), are in Japan. Why are you buying?

    I'll tell you a funny story. When I worked at the State of Wisconsin Investment Board in the '80s, Japan was 60% of the international index, and I had 0% invested in Japan. They used to say, "This is very risky." And I said, "What's risky is investing in Japanese companies that are trading at 60 or 70 times earnings." The average return on equity was 5%. To me there was just no value.

    Since then the price-to-book ratio has gone from four or five to below one, and return on equity is starting to creep up. It's not where it should be, but you're starting to see certain companies, like Canon, for instance, whose return on equity is 15% to 20%. Low price does not mean undervalued in our view. You have to look for companies that (a) are selling cheap but (b) are committed to value creation, to doing something with their excess cash, to building book value per share, and to getting a good return on equity. And we're able to find that for the first time ever -- at least since the mid-1980s, when I started investing.

    You don't hold any Chinese stocks, and the only emerging stocks you have are in South Korea and Mexico. What's going on?

    What's going on is that price is very important to us. In the late '90s we had 20% to 30% emerging-markets exposure, and people thought we were crazy. There had just been a crash, and prices were dirt cheap. Today there's hype and over-euphoria, and we cut our investments because they're reflected in the price. One has to distinguish between attractive equities and an attractive macroeconomic situation. And investors have confused this. We're at our lowest level in emerging markets probably since forever.

    Everyone says, "China, China, China!" I love the fact that China is growing 8% to 10% a year. Do you play that by buying some state-owned enterprise that doesn't care about the shareholders, has no transparency, and is trading at 25 times earnings? Or do you play that by buying into a business that trades at less than 10 times cash flow and makes more than 30% of its profits from emerging markets and China? That's the case for companies like Danone, Diageo (DEO), and Nestlé. They have very good exposure to emerging markets, and that should give them decent growth.

    There are big imbalances in the world. The U.S. is still under a big load of debt. China's currency is undervalued by nearly every measure. Inflation is a concern in the emerging world. What is the most dangerous thing going forward?

    This has been minimized a little bit because it didn't really happen last crisis, and that's global protectionism. Preventing the free flow of goods and services and capital across international boundaries. That is a danger because in order for markets to work, you need arbitrage to work. You need traders and investors and whoever to exploit imbalances.

    Secondly, the U.S. is still the largest economy in the world. My fear is that if we don't come to grips with our entitlement problem and our spending problem, people are going to dread Treasury auctions and we're going to get into a nasty cycle that is going to hurt the U.S. economy, and therefore, the global economy. Long-term interest rates would shoot up, which would kill housing even more. It would kill the bond markets. It would cause a lot of fear and fright, which would hurt expectations, which would hurt confidence. I do believe we're going to figure this out, but if we don't, there's going to be hell to pay.

    Where's the worst place to be now?

    Energy, natural resources. People still see growth in demand in emerging markets, and they think that translates to global growth in demand when in fact it doesn't. The developed world is actually declining in demand in some of these things. Look at the demand for oil, for instance -- it's right around 85, 86 million barrels a day. It basically has not grown more than 1% or 2% a year, if that, over the past decade. And when you look at what's happening in terms of energy efficiency and people wanting energy security, and then people believing in this green technology, it suggests oil demand isn't going to grow a lot in the near future.

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