Practical analysis for investment professionals
14 February 2014

Weekend Reads for Investors: Themes to Watch, MOOCs, and Olympic Predictions

Posted In: Weekend Reads

The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, published eight times a year, summarizes current economic conditions in the US by collecting anecdotal data from a range of sources, including business contacts, economists, and market experts. Goldman Sachs (GS) has adapted this practice for their own S&P 500 Beige Book, a quarterly survey of corporate conference calls which similarly collects “anecdotal evidence of fundamental and thematic trends” from which they highlight major themes. Their most recent edition, based on fourth quarter earnings calls, presents four themes for the year ahead that bear close watching. They include:

  • Margin expansion will be a challenge in 2014 — Managements noted difficult pricing environments and higher raw material and labor costs as key offsets to further efficiency gains.
  • Continued optimism for emerging markets — Surprisingly, most companies remain optimistic about their prospects in emerging markets. While some firms noted a slowdown in business activity, most still see emerging markets as a key driver of growth.
  • Capital return vs. capital spending — With cash levels still at record levels and cash flows holding strong, many companies continue to favor returning cash to shareholders via dividends and stock buybacks. Capital expenditures and M&A activity are lesser priorities.
  • Currency head winds — Many firms highlighted the weakening Japanese yen and volatile emerging market currencies as primary reasons for their reduced revenue expectations.

Here are some other worthwhile reads you may have missed in recent weeks.

Strategic Thinking


Activist Investing

Big Data

Frontier Markets

Online Education

Behavioral Matters

Bad Actors

The Lighter Side

Please note that the content of this site should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute.

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About the Author(s)
David Larrabee, CFA

David Larrabee, CFA, was director of member and corporate products at CFA Institute and served as the subject matter expert in portfolio management and equity investments. Previously, he spent two decades in the asset management industry as a portfolio manager and analyst. He holds a BA in economics from Colgate University and an MBA in finance from Fordham University. Topical Expertise: Equity Investments · Portfolio Management

1 thought on “Weekend Reads for Investors: Themes to Watch, MOOCs, and Olympic Predictions”

  1. Natalia says:

    Very good article

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