Bridgewater warns of peak U.S. revenue margins, decrease inventory costs


(Reuters) – The foremost drivers of excessive U.S. company revenue margins are unsustainable and “now below menace”, which is able to ultimately lead to a lot decrease fairness costs, Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, mentioned on Wednesday in a report.

FILE PHOTO: Merchants work on the ground of the New York Inventory Trade (NYSE) in New York, U.S., January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

“Over the past twenty years, U.S. company revenue margins have surged and have contributed greater than half of the surplus return of equities relative to money,” mentioned Bridgewater, which oversees greater than $160 billion in property.

“With out that constant enlargement of margins, U.S. equities could be 40% decrease than they’re in the present day.”

Over the previous couple of many years, nearly each main driver of revenue margins has improved, Bridgewater mentioned.

“Labor’s bargaining energy fell, company taxes fell, tariffs fell, globalization elevated, expertise allowed for better scale and decrease marginal prices, anti-trust enforcement fell, and rates of interest fell. These components have produced probably the most professional company setting in historical past. Many of those drivers of excessive revenue margins at the moment are below menace.”

“A number of the forces that supported margins over the past 20 years are unlikely to offer a continued enhance,” Bridgewater mentioned. “Incentives for offshore manufacturing have been lowered as world labor prices have moved nearer to equilibrium, with home prices and rising commerce battle growing the danger of offshoring, whereas the potential tax fee arbitrage from shifting overseas is now a lot smaller.”

On the identical time, widespread sentiment has begun to show in opposition to the forces driving company earnings, in addition to in opposition to the businesses which have benefited most, Bridgewater mentioned.

“We’re within the midst of a populist backlash in opposition to rising inequality and more and more seeing a transfer towards extra protectionism,” it mentioned within the report. “Latest surveys present growing animosity towards globalization and the ability of corporations extra broadly and a bit extra welcoming attitudes towards authorities regulation of corporations.”

There’s additionally extra dialogue about taxing mega-profitable corporations which have benefited from present authorities insurance policies, it mentioned.

For instance, Europe’s potential “digital companies tax” is explicitly designed to shut the tax arbitrage by introducing a gross sales tax on on-line revenues from residents.

“Whereas the present affect of those proposed guidelines on the general profitability of those tech giants is comparatively small, they’re a straw within the wind that the tide may be turning and that the multi-decade enhance from favorable taxation insurance policies is unlikely to be repeated,” Bridgewater mentioned.

Reporting by Jennifer Ablan; Enhancing by Sonya Hepinstall



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