Picture du Jour: Plunging Dollar Erodes Non-US Investors' Returns

By: Prieur du Plessis | Wed, Nov 18, 2009
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With the US dollar falling down a precipice, spare a thought for non-US investors invested in US stocks and bonds.

The graph below shows the performance of US 10-year Treasury Notes since the beginning of March in both US dollar terms (red line) and euro terms (blue line). Whereas US investors are showing a poor return of -2.8% for the period, European investors are completely under water to the tune of -17.5%. For the year to date the figures are -4.8% (US dollar) and -10.5% (euro). (Although I am using the euro in this example, the same logic applies to most other non-US dollar currencies.)

Source: StockCharts.com

The next graph illustrates the same principle for equities by comparing the performance of S&P 500 Index in US dollar terms (red line) with the same Index from the viewpoint of a euro investor (blue line). Whereas US investors have every reason to be very pleased with a return of +64.1%, euro investors are lagging quite far behind with +39.2%, which becomes more pronounced when compared to a return of 55.4% for the European Top 100 Index. For the year to date the figures are +22.9% (S&P 500 - US dollar), +15.6% (S&P 500 - euro) and +21.9% (European Top 100).

Source: StockCharts.com

It is understandable that European investors are not ecstatic about the greenback's slide and will keep having reservations about committing funds to US assets until they see signs of the dollar forming a bottom.

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Prieur du Plessis

Author: Prieur du Plessis

Dr Prieur du Plessis

Dr Prieur du Plessis

With 25 years' experience in investment research and portfolio management, Dr Prieur du Plessis is one of the most experienced and well-known investment professionals in South Africa. More than 1 000 of his articles on investment-related topics have been published in various regular newspaper, journal and Internet columns. He also published a book, Financial Basics: Investment, in 2002.

He holds the following degrees: BSc (Quantity Surveying) (Cape Town), HonsB (B & A) (cum laude) (Stellenbosch), MBA (cum laude) (Stellenbosch); and DBA (Doctor of Financial Management) (Stellenbosch).

Prieur is chairman of the Plexus group of companies, which he founded in 1995. Previously he was general manager: portfolio management at Sanlam, responsible for the management of investment portfolios with total assets in excess of $5 billion.

Plexus is a pioneer in the mutual fund industry and has achieved a number of firsts under Prieur's leadership. These include the authoritative Plexus Survey, a quarterly analysis of the consistency of the performance of unit trust management companies, the Plexus Offshore Survey, the Plexus Unit Trust Indices, and the PlexCrown Fund Ratings.

Plexus is the South African partner of John Mauldin, American author of the most widely distributed investment newsletter in the world, and also has an exclusive licensing agreement with California-based Research Affiliates for managing and distributing its enhanced Fundamental Index™ methodology in the Pan-African area.

In 2001 Prieur received the Santam/AHI Business Leader of the Year award for corporate leadership, business acumen and entrepreneurial flair. He was also profiled in the book South Africa's Leading Managers (2006). Plexus received the AHI/Old Mutual Enterprise of the Year award in 1997 and was also included in the book South Africa's Most Promising Companies (2005).

Prieur is 52 years old and lives with his wife, TV producer and presenter Isabel Verwey, and two children in Welgemoed, Cape Town. His recreational activities include long-distance running, motor cycling and reading. He belongs to the Cape Town Club, Johannesburg Country Club, Gordon's Bay Yacht Club and Swiss Social & Sports Club.

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