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  • 03/07/2016

Paula DiPerna: How to Value it as Environmental Risks Mount




How to Value it as Environmental Risks Mount


By Paula DiPerna

Light, a pastel palette sea, graceful contours of the coast. These pleasures we seek in our dreams, can see in our mind’s eye, and now and then afford when we buy or rent real estate. Hotels call these pleasures “premium” and charge us handsomely for premium room attributes, even though the environment has offered these pleasures to us free of cost. Proximity to the sea and sea views have been advantages for trade, art and culture since the beginning of human settlements—a poetry in the landscape of where we choose to locate ourselves, and conduct commerce. And owners of land near the sea are skillful at translating the free value attached to seafront property by nature into charges they can pass along. After all, who among us checks into a hotel and asks for a room facing a wall?

But, via climate change, we are nastily converting free pleasures into pending threats. Tsunamis from earthquakes are notorious, of course, but earthquakes are for the most part not human-caused. Climate change, on the other hand, derives from human activities and is underway, warming the planet here, cooling it there, but everywhere causing unpredictable and extreme weather patterns.

Wild storm surges are, unfortunately, becoming a new normal, placing new demands on the insurance industry and other financial entities that have to come to terms with how to compensate and cope with ensuing damage costs—current and projected. For what if 1 in 100 year catastrophic weather events start to occur more often? Are those costs bearable financially and operationally, let alone spiritually?

On the operational side, institutions globally have had to put on a new pair of glasses to clearly see new potential risks, and try to take account of them. In the US, perhaps the most dramatic recent example is the new Whitney Museum of Art, the country’s premier museum of American Art, which just moved its collection to a gleaming new building in lower Manhattan, right next to the Hudson River and a few ferry toots from its opening on the Atlantic Ocean. The opening of the new museum was a monumental civic affair, and the new building became a global architectural sensation overnight. From outside, the museum looks like a sleek steel city building that fell asleep and woke up as a ship taking to a narrow strip of water. From nearly every gallery, the Hudson River glistens, reflecting so much sunlight at times that huge scrim curtains need to be hung to cut the glare and avoid possible light damage to the art.

But what about flooding? In 2012, during the infamous Hurricane Sandy, whose storm surge broke all records, lower Manhattan was underwater and blacked out, including where the Whitney now stands. Storm water made the nearby subway tunnels unusable, and rubber dinghies for a time replaced yellow cabs as a way to move around. And, frighteningly, the basement of the new Whitney site, then under construction, was itself flooded with about 15 meters of water.

So, planning had to begin again, and the new Whitney design had to prepare for the worst—not just to save the building of course, but to protect the priceless art inside—the core mission and raison d’être of the museum after all. The result is a fortress against the tempest, with an enormous flood door and heavy mobile walls that are in storage until the day they may be needed, said to be able to be erected quickly. This is as close to sealing up the museum like a submarine as is possible with today’s technology. In fact, the company that helped with the design is Walz and Krenzer, with the tagline, “Watertight closures for the Marine Industry since 1939.”

To fund the museum, US$ 125m in revenue bonds were issued by the Trust for Cultural Resources of the City of New York and recently rated “A” by Fitch’s. Interestingly, the ratings criteria on the financial viability of the museum did not apparently include any plus or minus that would reflect the museum’s storm preparedness, though presumably the extra resiliency planning should make the museum more viable and insurable, and thus more likely to deliver on its revenue projections in that business interruption in the event of a major storm should be lessened.

But no one really knows. The storm system, while state of the art, remains to be tested, although no one would like to see it tested in real life.

Urban resiliency and hardening of coastal locations is a hot topic worldwide today, in view of climate change. Especially so in Asia, where memories of coastal wipe-outs are all too recent and vivid, even more especially in Hong Kong, with its superb miles of river walks, concert halls, hotels and museums along Victoria Harbor. Still, the financial services sector is perhaps playing catch-up to weather facts.

In the meantime, globally, the “1 in 100 initiative” is underway, an effort convened by partners such as the UN Office of Disaster Risk Reduction, Standard and Poor’s, and the Willis Group, a global risk advisor and insurance and reinsurance broker. Currently, the ‘1 in 100 year’ stress test gauges disaster risk and evaluates the “maximum probable financial loss” an entity could expect to face in a hundred years, i.e., a 1% chance that disaster would occur in the next 12 months. A ‘1 in a 100’ event is generally an insolvency risk and indeed a ruined art collection would be the equivalent to insolvency. The ‘1 in a 100’ stress testing framework is used by the insurance industry, and the new initiative aims to integrate similar standards into the financial services sector, and banking and securities regulation. In other words, to fortify financial assets in the same way as physical assets.

Whether parallels exist remains to be seen, but the irony does remain: climate change, human-induced, is so nefarious it is saddling timeless free pleasures, such as proximity to the sea, with costs and risks not conceived even a mere decade ago. BM

從印度轉型中獲利

Matthew Fletcher 撰文

說到選股,一切皆關乎對細節的認真探究,這正正是木星資產管理的優勝之處。因此,由文智華(Avinash Vazirani)管理的木星印度精選SICAV基金,自2008年中推出起表現一直跑贏基準指數。 為表彰此方面的卓著表現,基金已獲評為《指標》2016年度基金大獎印度股票「同級最佳」基金。

把握印度的國內增長潛力

選股時,文智華採用由下而上分析法,物色市盈率與市賬率低於市場均值、但往績與預測每股盈利增長高於市場均值的公司;換言之,就是以合理價格買入他看好的公司。他通常先和管理層見面,了解一段時間後才放心投資。「我們追求由人才雄厚的團隊經營,並將股東利益放在心中的好公司。」

文智華指流動性並非他選股的主要投資準則。「我們投資的企業必需擁有可持續收入和現金流。假如您細看我們的投資組合,您會發現各公司一般均擁有強勁的品牌和知識產權,而且入行門檻較高,亦側重於內需消費。基本上,我們瞄準從印度國內增長中獲利的機會。」

基於上述選股原則,對比其指標指數MSCI印度指數,該基金持有較多的消費股及金融股,而商品股的持股量相對較少。

受惠於莫迪的反貪腐運動

他提出五個將帶動印度公司的長遠盈利能力,但目前仍被市場低估的因素,包括:政治穩定性、引入「福利直接轉帳」(DBT)計劃、在全國實施商品及服務稅(GST)、增加高速互聯網的覆蓋率,以及把人民的實體儲蓄轉化成金融儲蓄。去年十一月,總理納倫德拉・莫迪(Narendra Modi)決定廢除大面額現鈔的流通,或稱「廢鈔」,是對印度經濟有重大影響的事件。此項令人震驚的公佈,主要為了遏制恐怖主義發展,杜絕不明來歷的黑錢。由於被剔出法定貨幣的鈔票,包括主要為500 盧比及 1,000 盧比鈔票,佔總流通現鈔量的86%,或約2,200 億元,此舉對「黑市」經濟及官方經濟均構成直接衝擊。

印度經濟中多個依賴現鈔支付的行業均深受打撃。文智華解釋,例如在十一月及十二月初,貨車與陸路運輸公司及其他物流公司的業務忽然剎停,令企業銷售受到全盤影響。但從好的方面來看,印度人機智應變,很多店主於店外設置QR碼,轉用電子形式收款。文智華相信,隨著廢鈔,及越來越多印度人把資金存入銀行並在官方經濟中流轉,增加政府稅收,會有助印度轉型為更數碼化的經濟體。

據不完全統計,廢鈔已在短期內對廣泛經濟造成消極影響。就2017年而言,國際貨幣基金組織(IMF)鑑於廢鈔的影響,已將印度經濟增長預測調低1個百分點至6.6%。然而,廢鈔會如何在短期內逐漸影響到各公司的利潤,仍存在很大的不確定性。文智華指:「我們通常會預視未來六至十二個月的前景,而不明朗因素將於未來三至六個月內浮現。」

對文智華來說,廢鈔對經濟及股票市場極之有利。他指出:「貪污減少、更多人遵從稅法將會帶來長遠裨益,這正正是市場評論員所忽略的。」於印度非正規經濟內營運的公司,是現鈔支付經濟的主要參與者,如今他們將被帶返正規經濟領域內,且須繳立稅款。這將創造公平競爭環境,使這些公司與更有效、更妥善地營運並一直履行課稅責任的上市公司進行競爭,從而令上市公司受益。文智華投資的公司當中,大部份均有信心會從非正規經濟領域內的公司手上,取回更多市場佔有率。

文智華又指,目前斷定廢鈔的長遠贏家與輸家言之尚早。然而,金融服務公司與金融科技公司是兩個很明顯的受益行業,原因是印度人取回投放於黃金及物業的資金,再把資金投放於金融產品,如保險、網上儲蓄戶口和互惠基金,而建築公司會受到負面影響。文智華亦預測,隨著更多資金透過官方金融體系往來,市場利率將降低,公司可享受較低的借貸成本。由於商業客戶償還銀行貸款的能力增加,公營銀行,包括此基金持有的幾隻銀行股,應可從中受惠。

「處於變革期的開端」

印度是2016年表現較佳的新興市場之一,雖然股市不算太好,未有礙此基金跑贏大市。2017年的外圍環境正為印度帶來種種不明朗因素。自唐納・特朗普(Donald Trump)當選美國總統,並決定美國退出《跨太平洋夥伴關係自由貿易協定》起,可能已拉開貿易關係不穩的新時代序幕。美國息率上升的預期,可能有損海外投資者對印度證券的投資意欲。

文智華指出,印度與美國並無訂立自由貿易協定,因此,受特朗普政策影響較微。儘管市場憂慮美國保護主義情緒加劇,可能減少美國人對印度資訊科技服務的需求,美國國內對印度軟件工程師及資訊科技服務仍是求過於供。文智華指:「特朗普是擁有億萬家財的商家,我們應相信美國人的決定,繼續等待及觀望。」他又說,美元息率攀升,已造成海外股票投資者近月更猛力拋售印度股票,但國內流向印度互惠基金的資金增加,抵銷了部份不利影響。

對印度及長遠股市前景更重要的是,莫迪能夠成功推行廢止大面額現鈔,並令已討論了數十年的商品及服務稅,最終能於今年夏季推行。有關稅項將大大簡化印度繁複的稅制,同時令營商更加便利。對於文智華而言,這些是印度自獨立以來最大的制度改進。他說:「莫迪已取得很大的成功,他所作出的改變是如此驚人,你不能低估已推措施的成效。印度現正處於變革期的開端。」他續說:「投資印度多年,我從未如此深信各公司的未來賺錢能力和投資契機。」 BM

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