Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is advising its wealthy clients to return to equities and particularly favors U.S. stocks on optimism for a strong economic recovery after the end of the virus lockdowns.
“Our own advice to clients is that right now is a good time to get back into markets and take advantage of the decline in equity markets to position for the rebound,” Silvia Ardagna, managing director in the investment strategy group within Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management, said in a phone interview.
While Goldman strategists expect a sharp near-term decline in global economic activity, they also forecast a V-shaped rebound in the second half of the year. Ardagna said her team has been “positively impressed” by the response of policymakers and while these measures won’t prevent a recession in the first half, they’ll likely fuel a powerful recovery.
Goldman’s investment strategy group recommended in mid-March that clients use the selloff to slowly add to risk assets and said it was using options instead of direct purchases of U.S. stocks. Ardagna said that in its tactical fund, Goldman has since gone outright long the S&P 500 Index to position for the bounce. U.S. equities reached their low on March 23 after slumping 34% over the course of a month and have since rallied 21%.
“We see light at the end of the tunnel because we believe that sooner or later the medical community will make breakthroughs, and because the fiscal and monetary response around the world, especially in the U.S., where we’re overweight stocks, has been pretty aggressive and forceful,” she said, while adding that the market may remain volatile because of the pandemic.
Her comments echo those of Peter Oppenheimer, Goldman’s chief global equity strategist, who said on Bloomberg TV that global growth is expected to rise 6% next year, fueling a strong rebound in equities. He added that the stock market isn’t yet reflecting a pick-up in earnings in 2021 that is expected to be at least 50% in Europe and the U.S.
Fiscal support measures in the U.S. are giving businesses incentive to retain workers, which should allow them to restart their operations more quickly once lockdowns are lifted, Ardagna said. Sentiment among U.S. small businesses collapsed in March by the most on record and payrolls slumped by more than 700,000, seven times as much as economists had forecast.
Goldman’s consumer and wealth-management unit had $561 billion of assets under supervision at the end of 2019, up 23% from a year earlier.
Ardagna said the team isn’t recommending positions in high-yield credit or European government bonds because U.S. stocks offer a much better risk-reward. The S&P 500 gained as much a 1.8% today, extending its recovery on optimism for another round of stimulus and an eventual move toward reopening the economy.
“When valuations are so low, when there’s been pretty sharp drawdowns in equity markets, on a 12- to 18-month horizon, the probability of getting a positive return is pretty high,” she said.