Is Rod Stewart a good market indicator for 2012?

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PARIS: It was a wet and miserable day in Paris but that did nothing to dampen the spirits of the expectant crowd heading to the capital’s century-old Theatre Mogador last week.

Rock legend Rod Stewart was playing an exclusive gig for Carmignac Gestion investors following its latest investor conference and the crowd’s excitement was palpable.

While it took a few songs to loosen up, by the time Stewart’s rendition of ‘Twistin’ the Night Away’ came on, the entire audience was on its feet.

It seems Carmignac were not lying in their latest monthly newsletter when they said 2012 would be a ‘rock’n’roll year', but few could have predicted that Edouard Carmignac himself (pictured above with Rod Stewart) would be the very one kicking off the year in such a rocking fashion.


 

It was a rather bizarre experience, an entire theatre hired out for a single corporate event. No guest speakers or announcements, simply a closed gig in which Edouard Carmignac rubbed shoulders with a rock star.

You could argue this was Carmignac showing he is not afraid to take a contrarian position – while policymakers are all talking austerity, he hires a rock star to entertain his investors.

The crowds’ growing enthusiasm during the gig is a somewhat fitting analogy for the overall mood and expectations of the Parisian investment community that I met with last week.

One leading French fund manager summed it up rather well – ‘measured optimism’ she called it.

The gloomy predictions at the end of last year following the gruelling summer were overly pessimistic, many told me. Good companies’ valuations will soon begin to creep up in 2012 and choices made now will prove decisive in the coming months.

‘Equities are not the devil and bonds are not the be-all and end-all’, as one fund selector put it.

What about the French downgrade? Well that has had little or no effect on their strategy. Expected and predictable, even if S&P had already made the faux pas of publishing it weeks before the official statement by mistake.

Tactical and stock-picking prowess will be the key to making returns in 2012 one selector told me, and those types of managers are tthe most sought-after at the start of the year.

Rendez-vous in six months’ time to see if this prudent optimism was justified.