It’s earnings season, and with Lehman, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley kicking it off this week, many investors will be asking themselves: Is the financial crisis over? (Or, at least, is it winding down?) The smart money at the sovereign wealth funds (big investment funds controlled by foreign governments) sure thought they smelled the bottom some months ago when they injected some capital into a few of the ailing Wall Street banks.
SWFs are long-term investors, we know, but we wonder: Are the analyst(s) who recommended the investments at the SWFs sweating a bit? As of last October, financial services firms have issued $65bn-plus in common and convertible shares on the equity markets. But investors who bought into these share offerings have witnessed a $9.7bn decline in their total investments. According to a story in the Financial Times, which analyzed data provided by Dealogic, this amounts to a negative return of roughly 15 percent. Of course, value players must have patience. (One well-known value player—who, by the way, made a fortune when banks recovered from the S&L crisis—described it like this: “I waited three years for my investment to double overnight.”) And besides, that decline is way better than the S&P 500 financial sector index has performed in that time (it’s down 37 percent, says the FT.)
The story says that SWFs have moved to the sidelines. Of course, they’ve put their trades on, and now there is nothing for SWFs to do but wait—and hope their investing scenario unfolds (oh, and collect their junk-like coupons on the financial firms’ convertible stock while they wait).