The Autonomies
Comment of the Day

June 06 2013

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Autonomies

Eoin Treacy's view From early 2011 we began to identify large multinational companies that were exhibiting both relative strength and temporal leadership. As the commonality among this group became clearer a number of shared characteristics were evident. These are large internationally diversified companies that dominate their respective niches and had in many respects outgrown their domestic markets. They often had solid records of dividend increases and have balance sheets strong enough to sustain them. They tend to benefit from superior corporate governance and have some of the most recognisable global brands. From August 2011 we began to refer to these companies as Autonomies.

The Autonomies reflect the confluence of three important themes that are likely to persist for much of the next decade if not longer. The Greatest Urbanisation in History represents the fact that the global population moved from being mostly rural to mostly urban in the last few years. Increased urbanisation generally leads to higher standards of living, greater productivity and increasing per capita consumption of just about everything.

We are also living through one of the most exciting golden ages of technological development in the history for our species. The capacity for innovation in technology and healthcare represent important potential for productivity gains over the next decade. The pace of patent filing alone suggests that this theme has considerably further to run.

The advent of unconventional oil and gas production in the USA represents a game changer for the energy sector which is still in its early stages. While these new methods have so far been most successfully employed in North America, the capacity for advanced drilling techniques to be employed elsewhere remains undiminished. Energy market tightness is likely to be less of an issue from later this decade.

The original list of 66 companies I compiled was heavily weighted by consumer, healthcare and technology shares. In the last few months I have expanded the list to include more service, industrial, materials, chemicals, mining and energy companies so that it has swelled to 145 shares.

Another characteristic shared by this expanded list of Autonomies is the high number of monopolies and oligarchies represented. For example Coca Cola and Pepsi dominate the global soft drinks market. Linde, Air Liquide and Praxair dominate the global compressed gases sector. WPP, Publicis and Omnicom dominate the global public relations, lobbying and conventional advertising sectors. Experian is the most globally present credit checking company. BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, with VALE dominate the global iron-ore market while Potash Corp of Saskatchewan is the largest producer of potash in the world. .

On a click through of this list mean reversion is a common characteristic. A substantial number have already returned to their trend means, represented by their 200-day MAs If medium-term uptrends are to remain consistent, they will need to demonstrate support in the current region. Coca Cola, Nestle, Colgate Palmolive, Mattel, Diageo, SAB Miller, Anheuser Busch, ARM Holdings, Heineken, Eli Lilly, Intertek Group, Unilever and Mondalez International are among those who have returned to test the region of their MAs.

Johnson & Johnson, Biogen, Bristol Myer Squibb, International Flavours & Fragrance, Kimberly Clark, Compagnie Financiere Richemont, Walt Disney, Google, Rolls Royce, Berkshire Hathaway and Ecolab exhibit some of the largest overextensions and are therefore some of the most likely to experience mean reversion.

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