In August, consumer prices in the US rose 8.3% over the past year, down from June’s 9.1% peak but still worryingly high.
And that does not bode well for investors according to Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s largest hedge fund Bridgewater Associates.
“You fight inflation with economic pain,” he says at MarketWatch’s Money Festival.
Dalio explains that when the Fed raises interest rates to tame inflation, the discount rate goes up.
“When one makes an investment, one puts a lump sum payment for future cash flows. And then in order to say what they’re worth, we take the present value of those, which you will use a discount rate … and that’s what makes all boats rise and decline together.”
So where should investors hide?
Cash is obviously not optimal as inflation erodes its purchasing power. Dalio previously said that “cash is trash” and he still believes so.
“Cash is still going to be a negative real return, it’s still going to be a trashy investment depends how it compares with the others.”
Let’s take a look at what Dalio’s hedge fund holds instead.
Procter & Gamble (PG)
According to Bridgewater’s latest 13F filing to the SEC, the fund held 6.75 million shares of Procter & Gamble at the end of June. With a market value of around $970 million at the time, it was the largest holding in Dalio’s portfolio.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. P&G is a defensive stock with the ability to deliver cash returns to investors in different economic environments.
In April, P&G’s board announced a 5% dividend increase, marking the company’s 66th consecutive annual payout increase. The stock currently offers an annual dividend yield of 2.7%.
It’s easy to see why the company is able to maintain such a streak.
P&G is a consumer staples giant with a portfolio of trusted brands like Bounty paper towels, Crest toothpaste, Gillette razor blades, and Tide detergent. These are products that households buy on a regular basis, regardless of what the economy is doing.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
With deeply entrenched positions in consumer health, pharmaceuticals and medical devices markets, healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson has delivered consistent returns to investors throughout economic cycles.
Many of the company’s consumer health brands — such as Tylenol, Band-Aid, and Listerine — are household names. In total, JNJ has 29 products each capable of generating over $1 billion in annual sales.
Not only does Johnson & Johnson post recurring annual profits, but it also grows them consistently: Over the past 20 years, Johnson & Johnson’s adjusted earnings have increased at an average annual rate of 8%.
JNJ announced its 60th consecutive annual dividend increase in April and now yields 2.7%.
As of June 30, Bridgewater held 4.33 million shares of JNJ, worth approximately $769 million at the time and making the healthcare giant its second-largest holding.
iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG)
Bridgewater’s third-largest holding is the iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF.
IEMG tracks the MSCI Emerging Markets Investable Market Index and provides investors with convenient exposure to stocks in emerging markets like China, India, and Brazil.
The ETF holds more than 2,600 stocks. Its top holdings include industry heavyweights like chipmaking giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, Chinese tech behemoth Tencent Holdings, and Indian multinational conglomerate Reliance Industries.
In a conversation with another investing legend Jeremy Grantham earlier this year, Dalio said he’s looking at countries with good income statements and balance sheets that can weather the storm.
“Emerging Asia is very interesting. India is interesting,” he says.
Bridgewater held 15.31 million shares of IEMG at the end of Q2, valued at $751 million.
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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.