Union Bancaire Privee, the Swiss wealth manager founded by Edgar de Picciotto, is urging clients to buy more European stocks, including consumer and industrial companies, and to reduce investments in gold.
Stronger economic indicators such as falling unemployment in Spain and increasing investor optimism drove UBP to increase investments in equities including Beiersdorf AG (BEI), the German maker of Nivea skin cream, according to Chief Investment Officer Alan Mudie.
“It’s not a consensus view and the fact the asset prices are depressed creates the opportunity for some very cheap and attractive assets that we’re recommending,” Geneva-based Mudie, 57, said in a telephone interview.
UBP, which oversaw 80 billion Swiss francs ($86 billion) of managed assets at the end of last year, is also encouraging customers not to shun all companies in Europe’s more indebted countries. Ignoring stocks in Europe’s periphery is “unjustified” as some companies are “world class,” according to Mudie.
UBP recommends Prysmian SpA (PRY), the Milan-based cable supplier, Tod’s SpA (TOD), the Italian shoe retailer that also owns the Fay and Hogan brands, and Luxottica Group SpA (LUX), the maker of designer eyeglasses, Mudie said. Picks in Spain include Repsol SA, the Spanish oil producer.
UBP expects the euro to fall below $1.30 and toward $1.24 or $1.25 before the end of this year, reducing labor and financing costs for European companies and boosting the appeal of those that export to countries using other currencies.
UBP’s call to boost the proportion of investments in equities and convertible bonds in a model multi-asset portfolio to 38 or 39 percent hasn’t convinced everyone. Clients have shown a “high degree of skepticism” of the idea to focus more on riskier, European-based assets, he said.
While clients should keep a portion of their portfolios in gold as an “anchor” in an environment where central banks printing money can devalue certain currencies, UBP typically suggests holding 7 percent of investments in the precious metal, compared with more than 14 percent at the end of 2011.
“As the global economy and financial markets are going through a healing process, the use of gold by investors as a safe haven asset has become less of a factor than it has been over the last two years,” Mudie said.
Gold slumped 22 percent this year amid speculation the Federal Reserve will pare its quantitative easing that helped the metal cap a 12-year bull run last year. Gold entered a bear market in April as some investors lost faith in the metal as a store of value amid low inflation and a global equity rally. Declining prices prompted outflows from exchange-traded funds tracking the metal, Mudie said.
UBP, is rebuilding through acquisitions after customer assets slumped 55 percent from 2007 to June 2011. UBP said last month it agreed to buy parts of Lloyds Banking Group Plc (LLOY)’s international private-banking business and it integrated ABN Amro Bank NV’s Swiss private bank in 2012.
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