Consumer discretionary and IT stocks are ‘egregiously expensive,’ strategist says

  • The MSCI World Consumer Discretionary Price index has rocketed 85% since mid-March, while the The MSCI World Information Technology Price index, has soared over 75%.
  • Gambles said momentum stocks in the S&P 500 had risen 28% so far this year, while "high-dividend, low-volatility" companies had fallen year-to-date.
  • Examples of high-dividend, low-volatility stocks included those in the utilities, real estate and consumer staples sectors.

Investors should avoid "scarily priced" sectors of stocks, such as IT and consumer discretionary, according to MBMG Group Managing Director Paul Gambles. 

Speaking to CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" on Friday, Gambles said that such sectors were "egregiously expensive." 

"There's such a narrow operating window in which those stocks can continue to go up from where they are now," Gambles said. 

IT and consumer discretionary stocks, which are non-essential goods and services, have performed strongly since the outbreak of the coronavirus, with more people working remotely and generally spending more time at home due to lockdown restrictions.

The MSCI World Consumer Discretionary Price index has rocketed 85% since mid-March, while the MSCI World Information Technology Price index, has soared over 75%.

Gambles said a lot of these types of stocks had benefitted from the shifts into digital and e-commerce amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, if lockdown restrictions were to remain in place over the coming months, MBMG didn't see that trend continuing for much longer. 

His comments come as world shares hover close to record highs, with demand for riskier assets boosted by the prospective roll out of Covid-19 vaccines. 

It is hoped a safe and effective vaccine could help to bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 1.5 million lives worldwide and hit the global economy hard. 

'High dividend, low volatility'

Gambles said it was a concern to see that some investments were now "priced for absolute perfection," and that they continued to become more expensive on news like the announcements of effective coronavirus vaccines. 

He said it was difficult to see how this trend could continue and warned there was a "huge amount of downside if things aren't as absolutely perfect, as absolutely goldilocks as the price of momentum stocks implies." 

Momentum stocks are companies that have had continuously high returns over a prolonged period, such as technology companies. Gambles pointed out that momentum stocks in the S&P 500 had risen 28% so far this year, while "high-dividend, low-volatility" companies had fallen year-to-date.

Examples he gave of these high-dividend, low-volatility stocks were those in the utilities, real estate and consumer staples sectors.

Gambles believed it was more about looking for investments offering good value "rather than making an absolute call specifically that something is going to happen in 2021 — we don't know."

In MBMG's December investment outlook, the firm said it was bullish on gold, gold miners, long-dated U.S. government bonds and the U.S. dollar.

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