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Can Predictive Data Revolutionize Capital Markets?

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Can Predictive Data Revolutionize Capital Markets?

Can Predictive Data Revolutionize Capital Markets?

For investors around the world, the information age presents a double-edged sword.

On one hand, all this data can be harnessed to make intelligent and timely investment decisions. However, with data growing at exponential rates, this also means that there is a lot of noise – and finding the right signal can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Today’s infographic from Mergalim shows how the power of predictive data analytics is growing, and using tools like AI and Bayesian inference to anticipate the outcome of events before they happen is more feasible and applicable than ever.

The Big Data Landscape

Before we get into predictive analytics, let’s look at what investors are up against in the first place.

Volume: The rate of data creation is accelerating so fast, that in 2017 there will be more data created than the previous 5,000 years combined. To put this in perspective: in the U.S. alone, approximately 2,657,000 GB of data is created every minute.

Variety: Data is not uniform, and there are many types of data. With data coming from many sources simultaneously, useful analysis can be very difficult.

Velocity: Especially in the markets, data needs to be monitored in real-time to be useful. Getting information too late could mean zero liquidity for a portfolio in some sort of crisis.

In other words, one missed data signal can cause irreparable harm to a portfolio in a situation where things go awry. Therefore, along with having a smart allocation of assets, it can be advantageous to also be one step ahead of the game to know what’s coming.

The Power of Predictive Data

Predictive analytics is defined as:

“The branch of advanced analytics used to make predictions about unknown future events. It uses techniques from data mining, statistics, modelling, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to make predictions about the future.”

This kind of predictive power is already widely used by companies like Amazon, which uses algorithms to sort through billions of data points, your buying history, and current trends to recommend to you the items that you are most likely to buy. In fact, experts estimate that 35% of Amazon’s revenue comes from this practice of anticipating exactly what you want.

Not surprisingly, Wall Street has jumped on this bandwagon too.

  • Goldman Sachs famously employs more engineers than Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
  • Citadel, a secretive hedge fund, calculates the outcomes of more than 500 “doomsday scenarios” per day to assess potential risk for the firm from geopolitical and other potential crises
  • Quantitative traders use streams of data and complex algorithms to create models of the market to find predictable patterns, and create machine-derived forecasts

But there is one possible limitation with these approaches. Markets are complex systems and need to be analyzed as such. After all, human decision makers can be irrational, events can be “triggered” by seemingly random factors, and traditional mathematical models can fall apart when markets get volatile.

A Multi-Disciplinary Approach?

One solution to this limitation may be to borrow ideas from the intelligence industry, which must anticipate irrational or “random” human actions before they happen.

As an example of this, intelligence agencies like the CIA have already been working to apply other disciplines to the techniques already widely used in predictive data:

Bayesian Inference: A formula in which the probability for the hypothesis is updated based on new data.

Behavioral Psychology: The science behind how responses to environmental stimuli shape people’s actions.

Complexity Theory: Born in the 1960s, the science around how complex systems work is now well established.

Fuzzy Cognitive Maps: A way of representing social scientific knowledge and modelling decision making in systems.

Historical Perspective: Applying knowledge of past events and subject matter experts to these other disciplinary fields.

Artificial Intelligence: Today’s deep learning now allows AI to instantly recognize and process all types of previously impenetrable data.

If predictive data analytics becomes the norm and its potential is fully realized, having data only in real-time may not be enough for many active market participants. In turn, this could set up a very different landscape than exists today.

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Markets

The Dominance of U.S. Companies in Global Markets

U.S.-based companies have a heavy weighting in global equity markets. In most industries, their market capitalization exceeds 50% of the total.

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U.S. Companies Dominate Global Markets

Are global indexes as “global” as you think they are?

With the aim of tracking market performance around the world, these indexes incorporate securities from various regions. However, while the number of securities may be relatively well diversified across countries, a dollar perspective tells a different story. When market capitalization is taken into account, country weightings may become much more unbalanced.

Today’s visualization is based on a concept by S&P Dow Jones Indices that shows the percentage of U.S.-based companies in global sectors and industries as of December 31, 2019. The calculations reflect the market capitalization of companies in the S&P Global Broad Market Index (BMI), an index that tracks over 11,000 stocks across 50 developed and emerging economies.

Percentage of U.S. Companies by Sector

U.S-based companies—those that maintain their primary business affairs in the U.S.—are a major component of many global sectors and industries.

Here’s how it breaks down:

Sector% of U.S.-based CompaniesMost U.S.-heavy Subsector
Information technology73%Software (86%)
Health care65%Health care providers (82%)
Utilities53%Electric utilities (57%)
Real estate51%Equity REITs (69%)
Consumer discretionary49%Specialty retail (73%)
Consumer staples46%Household products (74%)
Industrials46%Aerospace & defense (73%)
Energy44%Energy - other (73%)
Financials44%Financials - other (73%)
Materials30%Chemicals (41%)

U.S.-based companies make up a staggering 73% of the information technology (IT) sector. However, China may soon threaten this dominance. The Made in China 2025 plan highlights new-generation IT as a priority sector for the country.

The U.S. is still the world’s leader, but China is coming up very fast.

Rebecca Fannin, Journalist & Author of Tech Titans of China

Healthcare is also heavily skewed towards U.S-based stocks, which make up 65% of the sector’s market capitalization. This weighting is perhaps not surprising given the success of many U.S. healthcare companies. In Fortune’s list of the 500 most profitable U.S. companies, 41 healthcare organizations made the cut.

The materials sector has the smallest weighting of U.S.-based stocks, but they still account for almost one-third of the overall market capitalization. Three American companies are in the sector’s top 10 holdings: Air Products & Chemicals, Ecolab, and Sherwin-Williams.

U.S. Equity Views in a Global Context

Given the high weighting of U.S. stocks in global sectors and industries, having a U.S. view is important. This refers to investors gaining a clear perspective on the risks and opportunities that exist in the country. Investors can consider the trends influencing American companies in order to help explain stock performance.

U.S. stock dominance also impacts geographic diversification. While it helps non-U.S. investors overcome their home bias, American investors may want to consider targeting specific international markets for well-rounded exposure.

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Finance

Intangible Assets: A Hidden but Crucial Driver of Company Value

Intangible assets – such as goodwill and intellectual property – have rapidly risen in importance compared to tangible assets like cash.

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valuing intangible assets

Intangible Assets Take Center Stage

View the high resolution version of this infographic by clicking here

In 2018, intangible assets for S&P 500 companies hit a record value of $21 trillion. These assets, which are not physical in nature and include things like intellectual property, have rapidly risen in importance compared to tangible assets like cash.

Today’s infographic from Raconteur highlights the growth of intangible asset valuations, and how senior decision-makers view intangibles when making investment decisions.

Tracking the Growth of Intangibles

Intangibles used to play a much smaller role than they do now, with physical assets comprising the majority of value for most enterprise companies. However, an increasingly competitive and digital economy has placed the focus on things like intellectual property, as companies race to out-innovate one another.

To measure this historical shift, Aon and the Ponemon Institute analyzed the value of intangible and tangible assets over nearly four and a half decades on the S&P 500. Here’s how they stack up:

Intangible vs. Tangible Assets

Source: Aon

In just 43 years, intangibles have evolved from a supporting asset into a major consideration for investors – today, they make up 84% of all enterprise value on the S&P 500, a massive increase from just 17% in 1975.

The Largest Companies by Intangible Value

Digital-centric sectors, such as internet & software and technology & IT, are heavily reliant on intangible assets.

Brand Finance, which produces an annual ranking of companies based on intangible value, has companies in these sectors taking the top five spots on the 2019 edition of their report.

RankCompanySectorTotal Intangible ValueShare of Enterprise Value
1MicrosoftInternet & Software$904B90%
2AmazonInternet & Software$839B93%
3AppleTechnology & IT$675B77%
4AlphabetInternet & Software$521B65%
5FacebookInternet & Software$409B79%
6AT&TTelecoms$371B84%
7TencentInternet & Software$365B88%
8Johnson & JohnsonPharma$361B101%
9VisaBanking$348B100%
10AlibabaInternet & Software$344B86%
11NestleFood$313B89%
12Procter & GambleCosmetics & Personal Care$305B101%
13Anheuser-Busch InBevBeers$304B99%
14VerizonTelecoms$300B83%
15ComcastMedia$276B92%
16MastercardBanking$259B99%
17NovartisPharma$252B101%
18WalmartRetail$252B68%
19UnitedhealthHealthcare$245B94%
20PfizerPharma$235B98%

Note: Percentages may exceed 100% due to rounding.

Microsoft overtook Amazon for the top spot in the ranking for 2019, with $904B in intangible assets. The company has the largest commercial cloud business in the world.

Pharma and healthcare companies are also prominent on the list, comprising four of the top 20. Their intangible value is largely driven by patents, as well as mergers and acquisitions. Johnson & Johnson, for example, reported $32B in patents and trademarks in their latest annual report.

A Lack of Disclosure

It’s important to note that Brand Finance’s ranking is based on both disclosed intangibles—those that are reported on a company’s balance sheet—and undisclosed intangibles. In the ranking, undisclosed intangibles were calculated as the difference between a company’s market value and book value.

The majority of intangibles are not reported on balance sheets because accounting standards do not recognize them until a transaction has occurred to support their value. While many accounting managers see this as a prudent measure to stop unsubstantiated asset values, it means that many highly valuable intangibles never appear in financial reporting. In fact, 34% of the total worth of the world’s publicly traded companies is made up of undisclosed value.

“It is time for CEOs, CFOs, and CMOs to start a long overdue reporting revolution.”

—David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance

Brand Finance believes that companies should regularly value each intangible asset, including the key assumptions management made when deriving their value. This information would be extremely useful for managers, investors, and other stakeholders.

A Key Consideration

Investment professionals certainly agree on the importance of intangibles. In a survey of institutional investors by Columbia Threadneedle, it was found that 95% agreed that intangible assets contain crucial information about the future strength of a company’s business model.

Moreover, 98% agree that more transparency would be beneficial to their assessment of intangible assets. In the absence of robust reporting, Columbia Threadneedle believes active managers are well equipped to understand intangible asset values due to their access to management, relationships with key opinion leaders, and deep industry expertise.

By undertaking rigorous analysis, managers may uncover hidden competitive advantages—and generate higher potential returns in the process.

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