Q1 2024 Strategy & Market Reviews

Each quarter, our Investment Management teams publish their key observations and portfolio updates across Global Equity and Fixed Income markets. This is a summary of our views for the First Quarter of 2024. You can download the full reports via the links shown below.


During the first quarter of 2024, the S&P 500 was up +10.6% in U.S. dollars, or +13.3% in Canadian dollars. We believe that this large advance was primarily the result of a strengthening economy, growing earnings, and the expectation of rate cuts later this year.

Price/earnings multiple expansion – or an increase in what investors are willing to pay for every dollar of earnings – is not unusual at this point in the cycle. This leads to stock valuations that are higher than historical averages, however, we don’t believe they are unreasonable today.

Last week’s update by the Federal Open Market Committee of the U.S. Federal Reserve seems to support our expectation of lower interest rates in the second half of 2024. However, with recent bumps in the inflation rate, the market’s expectation of as many as six rate cuts this year has been pared back to about three. This sent mixed signals to the fixed-income markets, which saw rates drift modestly higher. However, credit spreads remained strong and returns were bifurcated, with corporate bonds outperforming their government counterparts.

S&P 500 earnings grew +4.1% year-over-year last quarter, much stronger than the 1.5% market consensus growth rate at the end of 2023. This may have been skewed by positive earnings surprises in the Magnificent 7 Technology stocks, however, it was the second quarter of overall positive earnings growth after three negative quarters, which gives us some confidence in the consensus calendar forecasts, which call for earnings to reaccelerate to double-digit levels in 2024 and 2025. Growing earnings could provide a catalyst for further market appreciation.

This is a US election year, and while we can’t rule out a pullback moving toward the November 5th election day, particularly as pullbacks of 5-10% typically happen most years at some point or another, stocks historically tend to rise regardless of which party is in the White House or controls the House and Senate.

Overall, we remain positive on the markets given that the upcoming monetary easing cycle and the decline in interest rates is likely to take place against a backdrop of solid economic growth, low unemployment, declining inflation and improving earnings.


Peter Jackson, HBSc, MBA, CFA

Chief Investment Officer

Portfolio Manager, North American Equities

Our overall equity and cash exposure were unchanged this quarter at 95% and 5% respectively. Our U.S. equity exposure increased from 47% to 52,% while our Canadian exposure decreased from 48% to 43%. It is important to note that many of our clients’ portfolios are invested in our North American plus International Equity strategy, meaning that the actual weights of US and Canada within their equity holdings will be proportionately less than this given the allocation to international companies.

During the quarter, we continued to shift our allocation in favour of US equities (+5%) over Canadian equities (-5%). While there are pockets of strength in Canada, overall forward 12-month earnings growth remains negative in Canada as compared to positive earnings and improving breadth of earnings in the U.S. Our Canadian holdings are focused on these pockets of strength and most of the Canadian companies we own have globally diversified revenue sources despite a Canadian headquarters.

We added two new investments during the quarter:

Mastercard operates a digital payment network with integrated solutions that links consumers, banks, merchants, and merchant acquirers. Mastercard’s business is protected by a network effect as merchants are more likely to subscribe since so many consumers carry its cards, and consumers are more likely to carry a card that is accept in so many places. We think Mastercard has a long runway for growth as they benefit from the ongoing secular shift from cash to electronic payment, especially outside of North America, and the continued adoption of their value-added services, which include fraud detection, data analytics, and loyalty programs.

O’Reilly Automotive owns and operates automotive part distribution warehouses and retail stores predominantly in the United States, but also in Mexico and Canada. O’Reilly serves both the do-it-for-me (pro) market as well as the do-it-yourself (consumer) market through its 5,600 stores. O’Reilly has 30 distribution centres located in 30 major cities, and it has used its distribution advantage to build out its pro business, which now makes up 45% of its revenues. As a result, O’Reilly has better inventory turns, working capital management, and higher return on invested capital compared to most of its peers.

A detailed review of each company can be found in the full report per the link above.



Phil D’Iorio, MBA, CFA
Portfolio Manager, Global Equities

Global equity markets started off 2024 with a bang. Some of the drivers were strong corporate earnings, anticipated interest rate cuts, and a turnaround in investor sentiment. Given this backdrop, stock market returns were strong across many geographic regions.

About a year ago, economists and investors were forecasting a U.S. recession due to the impact of stubborn inflation and higher interest rates. In March of 2023, approximately 65% of economists polled by Bloomberg were convinced the U.S. economy was headed for a serious downturn within 12 months. This widely held viewpoint has completely reversed.

Given the resilience of the U.S. economy and a significant decline in inflation, economists and investors have now largely abandoned their “hard” or “soft” landing recession predictions. Indeed, 45% of now believe the U.S. economy is headed for a “no landing” scenario, where inflation falls towards the Fed’s 2% target and economic growth remains firm.

Outside of the United States, the global economy is growing, although it remains sluggish across many parts of the world. Markets are now expecting the European Central Bank to cut rates in June, which should help the recovery across the Eurozone. In China, the economy remains weak but there is some recent evidence of positive momentum.

Good news has continued to come out of Japan, as its central bank raised interest rates for the first time since 2007. This is viewed as a sign that Japan may have finally won its fight against deflation, with prices now rising consistently for the first time in decades.

Overall, we are seeing encouraging signs across the largest economic regions outside of the United States and continue to have a favourable outlook for global equity markets.

We added several new investments across a variety of industries during the quarter, including Alimentation Couche-Tard, Mastercard, O’Reilly Automotive, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals in the Global portfolio, and Icon, Inditex, Itochu, Mastercard, and Shin-Etsu in the International portfolio.

A detailed review of each company can be found in the full report per the link above.



Owen Morgan, MBA, CFA
Portfolio Manager, Fixed Income

In Q4 2023, the yield curve decreased markedly, which resulted in the strongest quarterly performance by Canadian bonds in over 20 years. In Q1 2024, it would be difficult to repeat such a performance. Indeed, performance was mixed as rates drifted moderately higher and inflation continued to trend downwards, but not at the pace many would like it to.

Economic growth was stronger than expected during the quarter, with the US GDP figures meeting or exceeding the consensus estimates in each of December, January and February. Here in Canada, there was a very modest upside surprise in GDP growth in January. The impact from these results was the realization that, while progress in the inflation fight continued, it did not proceed as much as expected. This, in turn, meant that the long-awaited cut in interest rates by central banks would be delayed – known as the “higher for longer” narrative.

Nonetheless, we continue to believe that the fixed income market will be good for investors in 2024 with returns exceeding the rate of inflation and the opportunity to benefit from potential interest rate cuts by the central banks.

Credit spreads, or the difference in yield offered by a corporate bond versus a federal government bond, tightened over the first quarter, reflecting confidence that economic activity had exceeded expectations, and that the economic outlook had improved somewhat.

In terms of portfolio investment positioning, as we anticipate rate cuts in the relative near-term, it makes sense to extend the fund’s duration, which will positively impact valuations if the cuts do materialize. We also anticipate modest increases in weights in federal, provincial and/or investment grade corporate bonds. We will continue to have exposure to non-investment grade credits we identify that possess attractive risk-return prospects.

Looking ahead, we believe that any recession will be mild, or may not be experienced at all. This view is buttressed by continued low unemployment figures, providing a buffer against a consumer-driven shock to domestic demand. Further, rate cuts should also ease to a degree the mortgage-related stress on consumers and the economy.

In summary, absent a material and unforeseen shock, we firmly believe the remainder of 2024 will provide a constructive environment for fixed income investors.


First Quarter 2024 Fixed Income Strategy Review

Recall that in last quarter of calendar 2023 the yield curve decreased markedly (and as you readers and investors know, when yields drop, bond prices rise). The resulting bond price rally that occurred was the strongest quarterly return performance by Canadian bonds in over 20 years. At the time, some believed there was a reasonably good chance interest rate cuts by the Canadian and US central banks might start as early as March 2024.

It would be difficult to repeat such a strong performance, as a result, the first quarter of 2024 always had a tough act to follow and the bond market return performance was in fact a mixed bag. Interest rates drifted slightly higher (see Canadian Yield Curve chart below), which is a negative factor for bond return performance. Inflation continued to trend downwards at a slower than anticipated pace, but the Canadian economy remained stronger than expected with a very modest beat in GDP growth in January (the latest data released), thus creating the environment for mixed bag return profile.

First Quarter 2024 Global Equity and International Review

After delivering robust returns in 2023, global equity markets started off 2024 with a bang. Some of the key factors driving the returns included strong corporate earnings, an expectation of interest rate cuts in 2024, and a turn in investor sentiment with investors abandoning their recession calls. Given this backdrop, stock market returns were not only strong, but also widespread across geographic regions.

First Quarter 2024 North American Equity Strategy

In our view, the current market advance is a result of the combination of a strengthening economy, growing earnings and the expectation of rate cuts later in 2024. The market’s focus has pivoted away from concerns about rising interest rates, which facilitated the rally during the fourth quarter of 2023, focusing on the forecasted earnings growth in both 2024 and 2025 (after flat earnings in 2023) which took the markets to new heights in 2024 year to date. Price/earnings (P/E) multiple expansion (i.e.: an increase in what investors are willing to pay for every dollar of earnings) is not unusual at this point in the cycle as earnings estimates catch up. This leads to stock valuations that are higher than historical averages, however with that said, we still don’t believe they are unreasonable for this point in the cycle.

Finally, last week’s update by the Federal Open Market Committee of the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed), seems to support our expectation of a lower Fed Funds Rate (and therefore lower interest rates) in the second half of 2024.

Q2 2023 Strategy & Market Reviews

Each quarter, our Investment Management teams publish their key observations and portfolio updates across Global Equity and Fixed Income markets. This is a summary of our views for the Second Quarter of 2023. You can download the full reports via the links shown below.


“The US government won’t default on its debts. There are plenty of jobs. Unit-labor-cost inflation is moderating. The banking crisis is abating. The recession is still a no-show. Earnings were better than expected during Q1 and are probably bottoming during the [second] quarter. The FOMC likely will pause its rate hiking for at least one meeting (they did). Summer is coming. No wonder the S&P 500 sailed to a new 2023 high yesterday.”

That is a summary of “what’s going on” according to respected market-watcher Ed Yardeni, and it’s generally music to our ears, even if it’s not coming from Marvin Gaye…  In other words, his views closely match our own. On June 8th, less than a week after Yardeni wrote this, the S&P500 officially entered a new bull market, up more than 20% from its 52-week low in October 2022. 

During the second quarter, the S&P500 total return was +8.7% in US dollars or +6.4% in Canadian dollars, as the Canadian dollar appreciated about +1.5 cents. The TSX total return was +1.1%. While given technology stocks continued to dominate the performance of the S&P500, we saw considerable widening in the breadth of performance late in the quarter as the market began to price in the possibility of a soft landing rather than a recession.

In terms of valuations, the TSX and the FactSet European index are trading at 10% and 5% discounts to their 20-year averages, respectively. The S&P 500 is trading above its historical average, but this is arguably skewed by a handful of large companies.

Indeed, the 10 largest S&P 500 companies by index weight have outperformed by almost 4x over the past 12 months, and we own five of them (Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Facebook and United Health Group). We are balancing these higher-growth holdings against attractive value-oriented names like GM, Elevance Health, Royal Bank, and Rogers Communications, among others.

Overall, we remain constructive on the equity market, notwithstanding the recent rise in prices. While corrections commonly occur during bull markets, we believe that the positive economic fundamentals that we observe should limit the downside. The earnings outlook is improving and, with economic growth slowing but likely not turning strongly negative, interest rates are closer to a peak than a trough, suggesting that equity market valuations are also less of a headwind going forward than they were in early 2022.

Peter Jackson, HBSc, MBA, CFA

Chief Investment Officer

Portfolio Manager, North American Equities


During the quarter, our overall equity exposure was unchanged at 94%. Within the North American investments, our US equity exposure increased from 40% to 42% while our Canadian exposure decreased from 54% to 52%. Cash was unchanged at 6%. 

Currently, our portfolio is positioned toward value-oriented stocks (including financials, consumer discretionary, industrials, energy and materials), which make up 58% of the portfolio, although this has declined from 63% on December 31st. Exposure to growth stocks (including healthcare, information technology and communication services) increased to 34%, up from 29% on December 31st. 

We added the following new stock positions during the 2nd quarter: 

Quebecor Inc. is a Canadian diversified media and telecommunications company based in Montreal. The acquisition of Freedom Mobile has opened a large avenue of growth for a company that has been traditionally restricted to the province of Quebec. We see a long runway ahead for Freedom that is not reflected in the present share price. 

Novo Nordisk is the world’s leading diabetes and obesity pharmaceutical company with a market capitalization of approximately US$360bn. Its Ozempic drug is now the most prescribed GLP-1 product. The company has demonstrated high margins and free cash flow, and a ~45% dividend payout while continuing to invest in its drug pipeline. 

Applied Materials is a leading supplier of advanced equipment, tools, inventory, and maintenance services to logic, memory and analog semiconductor companies. We see the company benefiting from the growth in digitization, automation, and AI, plus onshoring of semiconductor supply chains and a rebound in capital spending.

A detailed review of each company can be found in the full report per the link above.



Phil D’Iorio, MBA, CFA
Portfolio Manager, Global Equities


After generating strong gains during the first quarter, global equity markets also continued their upward climb during the second quarter. On a total return basis, the STOXX Europe 600 index returned +2.7%, the Nikkei 225 index was +18.5%, and the Nasdaq gained another +13.1%, taking its year-to-date gain to more than 32% –  its best first half of a year since 1983.

Despite these returns, a great deal of pessimism remains in the market. Several commentators continue to warn about a forthcoming recession. Most are concerned about the potential for a recession in the US given elevated inflation, aggressive monetary tightening, and the fallout from the collapse of several regional banks. Despite these concerns, the U.S. economy has demonstrated remarkable resilience and consumers continue to spend. 

US housing was one of the hardest hit sectors in 2022, but recent data suggests that we could be on the cusp of a rebound. New home sales jumped 12.2% to the highest level since February 2022. A potential rebound in U.S. housing is significant given that the housing sector is one of the largest and most important sectors of the U.S. economy, contributing an estimated 15-18% to GDP.

Inflation continues to move in the right direction as measured by the consumer price index. According to recently published data from the U.S. Labor Department, the inflation rate for the month of May cooled to its lowest annual rate in more than two years.

The global economy is growing at a modest pace, inflation has been moderating in both the U.S. and Europe, and consumer confidence has recently improved in the US. Corporate earnings have proved to be more resilient than the market was expecting. Taking all of this together, we remain cautiously optimistic as the second half of the year gets underway.

During the quarter, we initiated several new positions. In portfolios invested in our Global strategy, we added Applied Materials, Deckers Outdoor, Novo Nordisk, RELX, and YUM! Brands. In the International strategy, we invested in ASML, Hoya, Sony, and YUM China.

A detailed review of each company can be found in the full report per the link above.


Owen Morgan, MBA, CFA
Portfolio Manager, Fixed Income


In reverse to what happened in Q1 of 2023, interest rates across the Canadian yield curve shifted higher in Q2, with the more pronounced moves occurring in the short to medium term terms. The slope of the curve also steepened negatively. Typically, longer-dated bonds offer more yield given the additional risks inherent in lending money over a longer timeframe. However, at present, and as has been the case for the past year or so, the curve is “inverted,” with higher rates at the short end of the curve than the long end. 

The primary factor influencing fixed income markets was inflation and central bank policies to address it. While inflation continued to decline on a year over year basis, some underlying trends clouded market sentiment and dulled risk appetite. For example, the April CPI reading of +4.4% marked the first time in 10 months that this figure rose. Even though it dropped back to +3.4% in May, it still looks a long way from the Bank of Canada’s stated annual inflation target of 2%.

Meanwhile as described above, economic growth as measured by GDP slightly exceeded expectations during the quarter, as did employment and wage growth statistics. On the surface, this may seem like positive news, however it is negative news from an inflationary perspective, as a stronger economy increases pricing pressures. These factors caused the bond market to reassess the probabilities that interest rates would be “higher for longer.” 

Our expectation is that inflation will continue to decrease, albeit in a slower and less linear manner, and that we are very close to the end of the rate hike cycle, perhaps after one more increase in mid-July here in Canada.

Given the shape of the yield curve, and that it is inverted, the most attractive rates are in the shorter end. We see opportunities in existing issues that are trading below par, and therefore offer higher tax-advantaged returns for taxable investors. At the same time, we have identified some attractive new issues, such as short-dated bonds from some of the major Canadian banks offered with a 5.5% coupon. 

All in all, it has been a solid first half of the year, and we remain constructive on fixed income as a place to allocate investment funds. 


Second Quarter 2023 Global Equity and International Review

After generating strong gains during the first quarter, global equity markets continued their upward climb during the second quarter. On a total return basis, the S&P 500 was +8.7%, the STOXX Europe 600 index returned +2.7 %, and the Nikkei 225 index was +18.5%. The Nasdaq was particularly strong with the index generating a total return of +13.1% during the second quarter. For the first six months of the year, the Technology-heavy Nasdaq index soared by more than 32%, which marks the best first half for the Nasdaq since 1983 when it rose by 37%. The strong gains in the Nasdaq have largely been driven by the excitement surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) and the potential productivity gains that AI could generate for the global economy.

Second Quarter 2023 Fixed Income Strategy Review

In a reverse from Q1, the Canadian yield curve level (the general, reflecting overall value of interest rates across the curve) shifted higher in Q2, with the more pronounced moves occurring in the short to medium term tenors (encompassing the 3 month to 7 year bonds). This is shown in the Canada Yield Curve chart below. Rates moved higher by an average of almost 60 bps across the curve. As bond investors, you know that when interest rates (yields) rise, bond prices fall, albeit modestly in this case.

Second Quarter 2023 North American Equity Strategy

So “What’s Going On” according to Ed Yardeni June 2nd, 2023.
This quote was music to our ears even if it was not from Marvin Gaye. It is in line with our current thinking at Cumberland and pretty much summed up what happened in the second quarter. In fact, the S&P500 officially entered a new bull market on June 8th, up more than 20% from its 52-week low of 3577.03 on October 12th, 2022.

Why Stay the Course?

One of the most basic investment principles can be surprisingly difficult to grasp. Intuitively, you might think that if you lose 10% one year and make 10% the next year, you will break even. But that is not true, and it becomes even less true as losses become larger.

As the following chart shows, you need an 11% return to recover from a 10% loss. And the larger the loss, the harder it is to catch up. In the extreme, if your portfolio goes down 50%, you need to recover 100% just to get back to even.

It can be easy to forget about the jobs you intend your holdings to perform, then make emotional decisions that are counter to the portfolio’s long-term goals. For example, a holding intended to protect better in down markets will likely underperform in strong markets, and a position held for growth will likely hurt the portfolio when markets are weak. Forgetting about this or becoming impatient is one of the main reasons investors go off course and suffer negative consequences.

Markets vs. Human Nature

Markets have done well over time, but investors don’t always do as well. A perfect example comes from investment company Fidelity and its flagship Magellan Fund, which delivered a stellar 29% average annual return between 1977 and 1990. Despite this performance, the average investor actually lost money1. How is that possible? According to Fidelity, investors would run for the doors during periods of poor performance and come rushing in after periods of success.

It is human nature to chase performance and buy what did well last year but that goes counter to the entire concept of intelligent investing. If your portfolio is set up so that everything does well in a given year, that means everything can also do poorly in a given year. Being a successful investor over the long-term involves diversifying your portfolio with investments designed for different market conditions.

What about the bears?

Bear markets are never easy, but the market has been incredibly resilient. For example, since the bottom of the Great Recession in March 2009, the S&P 500 has delivered a return of 727% including dividends through March 31, 2023.

Go back further and you will see that, in the 50-year period ending December of 2022, the S&P 500 returned more than 13,000%. It may help to keep this history in mind when you contemplate market volatility. If you had invested $10,000 in the S&P 500 at the start of 1973 and just left it there, it would be worth more than $1.3 million today. (Source: Bloomberg SPX Index Total Return CAD, March 31, 2023.)

When a bear market hits, it may take a while to recover. As we saw a moment ago, a 30% drop necessitates a 43% recovery. But look at how the power of compounding can help. If your $100 investment declines to $70 and you make 10% the next year, you’re back up to $77. The next 10% gets you to nearly $85. Two more years of 10% gains, and you have $102.50.

A roller coaster of emotion

The trick to effective diversification and compounding returns is to stay the course. Investing based on panic or gut feelings will almost always lead to underperformance. Most investors are incapable of ignoring these reactions, which is why they hire professional advisors or money managers to look after their portfolios.

Investment professionals are trained to look at the long term and the big picture. Unfortunately, even this is not foolproof, because some investors will second guess their long-term plans based on short-term performance. Some will even abandon their advisors during market downturns, just to repeat the process again in the next downturn.

The following illustration highlights the emotional cycle of investing. Failing to control for these emotions leads to many of the most common serious investor errors, such as chasing returns, buying high/selling low, panic selling, making decisions based on individual holdings rather than an overall portfolio, lack of diversification, and purchasing narrowly-focused investments rather than broad asset classes.

Map out your course

Perhaps the best way to stay the course is to have it clearly mapped out. Spend time finding a professional advisor and firm you trust, then work with them to document your goals and set a long-term financial plan. After that, the best thing you can do is let them run your portfolio based on your strategy, without emotion or overreactions to short-term events.

Think of it as you do your winter coat. You do not get rid of it in the summer – you continue to hold onto it for when it is needed. As an investor, you should understand why you own the investments that you do and be reluctant to change them unless there is a different “job” that needs to be done in your portfolio.

We would like to finish with one of my favourite quotes by the legendary investor, Benjamin Graham, which highlights the importance of staying on course by avoiding needless errors:

“The essence of portfolio management is the management of risks, not the management of returns.”

Q1 2023 Strategy & Market Reviews

Each quarter, our Investment Management teams publish their key observations and portfolio updates across Global Equity and Fixed Income markets. This is a summary of our views for the First Quarter of 2023 You can download the full reports via the links shown below.


It’s hard to believe that we saw positive returns from both the S&P 500 (+7.5%) and TSX (+4.6%) during the first quarter. After all, inflation is still high, the Federal Reserve continued to increase interest rates, consensus earnings declined, and we witnessed the second largest bank failure in US history.

The bank failures in the US and Europe may be a drag on growth going forward, but we do not anticipate a wider crisis. We currently have no exposure to US banks, little exposure to European banks and some exposure to Canadian Banks. Canadian Banks are consistently more profitable than US and European banks and carefully regulated, so when problems do occur, they can usually manage without the need for external capital. 

Despite the banking turmoil, the Fed increased rates 25 basis points or +0.25%, bringing the upper end of the federal funds rate to 5.0%. They maintained their 2023 target rate of 5.1% and raised their 2024 target to 4.3% from 4.1%. In contrast, the fixed income market seems to have priced in about -0.85% of rate decreases this year. The question now is whether this reflects an expectation of lower inflation and slower growth, or a recession. Either way, it’s clear that the rate hiking cycle is virtually over.

We continue to believe that, if a recession does materialize, it will be relatively mild. Global banks are well-capitalized and businesses and consumers are significantly less exposed to credit and leverage risk than they have been historically. In addition, unlike a year ago, with interest rates now higher the Fed now has some room to maneuver its policy. In other words, if the economy slows too quickly, they can cut rates.

Consensus S&P 500 corporate earnings estimates for 2023 and 2024 have fallen nearly -12% and -11%, respectively, from their peaks in the spring of 2022. However, valuations (the price investors are willing to pay for a dollar of a company’s earnings) are now much more reasonable and almost two-thirds of S&P 500 companies are showing positive 3-month percent changes in forward earnings. Both of these factors are positive for stock prices.

We remain confident in the long-term outlook for our portfolio holdings given their robust free cash flow and strong balance sheets. We believe that these types of companies are best positioned to weather any storm that might arise.

Peter Jackson, HBSc, MBA, CFA

Chief Investment Officer

Portfolio Manager, North American Equities


We have continued to position our portfolios toward value-oriented stocks. Value stocks now make up 61% of the portfolio. Our exposure to growth stocks increased slightly to 31% of the portfolio. Staples, which we don’t classify as either growth or value, make up the balance of our equity exposure.

We added a number of new stock positions during the quarter, including: 

BCE Inc. represents a stable and defensive investment in uncertain times, where you are “paid to wait” with an excellent dividend that currently yields about 6%.

Canfor Corporation is a contrarian deep-value cyclical investment. Their lumber operations stand to benefit from eventual declining interest rates and higher housing demand as a result.

General Motors Company has made significant investments in R&D and supply chain. Based on this, among other positive factors, and given its current valuation, we expect GM stock to perform well.

Avery Dennison Corporation is a global materials science and manufacturing company that we believe will grow earnings faster than the market, which provides good share price appreciation potential for investors.

Meta Platforms has over 3 billion monthly users across Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp and we expect strong earnings from cost cuts and rebounding ad sales. In addition, Meta has invested heavily in the Metaverse over recent years, and these capital expenditures are virtually complete, allowing the company to profit. 

A more detailed review of each company can be found in the full report per the link above.



Phil D’Iorio, MBA, CFA
Portfolio Manager, Global Equities


After a challenging year in 2022, global equity markets more broadly also generated positive returns during the first quarter of 2023 with all the major geographic regions in the green. In addition to gains in the US and Canada, the STOXX Europe 600 index climbed by +7.8%, the Nikkei 225 increased by +7.5%, and the Emerging Markets collectively generated a positive return of +4%. 

Some of the factors driving these returns include falling inflation, better than expected economic data in the US and Europe, as well as enthusiasm related to the reopening of China’s economy.

In terms of inflation, the headline figures continue to fall in both Europe and the US. Preliminary readings showed that Eurozone headline inflation fell to 6.9% during the month of March, down from 8.5% in February. In the US, the consumer price index increased by +6% from a year earlier, a decline from 6.4% in January and down from the 40-year high of 9.1% in June of 2022.

We remain cautiously optimistic in our outlook for 2023. Given last year’s significant market declines, stocks are trading at more reasonable valuations. In addition, inflation measures have been falling and the red hot job market is finally showing signs of cooling. When combining these developments with what’s happened in the banking sector, we believe that central banks are nearing the end of their interest rate hiking cycle.

During the first quarter, as described above we re-initiated a position in Meta Platforms. We had previously invested in the company, but sold our entire position back in February of 2022 when Mark Zuckerberg gave specific guidance on how much money it was going to spend on the Metaverse. Since we sold it, the stock fell by 70%. 


Fast forward one year later, the company announced a strategic pivot in terms of its capital allocation. In addition to the tailwinds from its cost reduction efforts, Meta also has a potential opportunity should TikTok get banned in the United States. We also believe that Meta will benefit from the boom in artificial intelligence that will play out in the years ahead.

A more detailed review can be found in the full report per the above link.


Owen Morgan, MBA, CFA
Portfolio Manager, Fixed Income


The drivers of fixed income returns in Q1 2023 were, in no particular order, the banking crisis, Canadian and US interest rate hikes (or pauses), and interest rate spreads, particularly the incremental return over lowest risk government bonds. In all, 2023 got off to a positive start for fixed income investors.

The Canadian yield curve shifted lower in most tenors, and remained inverted during Q1 2023. As you know, when interest rates decrease, bond prices increase, so this was a positive outcome for fixed income investors. 

However, as a result of the interest rate volatility and the general “risk-off” tone of the market, corporate spreads widened modestly during the quarter. The level of corporate bond spreads are viewed as barometers for recession risk. While they currently suggest the risk of recession has increased, they do not, at present, indicate that a recession is imminent.

The Bank of Canada hiked rates by 25 bps or + 0.25% to 4.5% in late January, as expected. However, the Bank announced that it would pause, absent any material deviation from its economic forecasts, and it did just that at its meeting on March 8th, holding the rate at 4.5%. We do not currently anticipate further hikes here in Canada, but think there may still be one more increase in the US.

In Q1 2023, the trends for the US economy that were evident in late 2022 remained in place – high but declining inflation, very tight labour markets, and surprisingly resilient economic growth. The shock of the banking crisis caused rates to tumble, and the market believes the Federal Reserve Bank is tantalizingly close to the completion of its rate hike cycle.

We have not wavered in our belief that should a recession occur, it will be relatively mild. However, we believe the risk of recession has increased in the past three months as a result of tightened financial conditions, and the ongoing effect of the past year’s interest rate hikes.

We continue to favour government bonds and equivalents in our portfolio to buttress our defense against a potential recession. Having said that, bond yields remain compelling and we are modestly adding to the duration and average term to maturity of our portfolio. We will continue to seek strategic opportunities to add value through attractively-priced investments while carefully managing risk. 

A more detailed review can be found in the full report per the above link.