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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Neuberger Is Bullish About the Markets, and Itself

Reported by Tommy Fernandez

Bulls, charge your matadors.

A panel of top investment leadership at Neuberger Berman [profile] declared this morning that they are very bullish about the equity markets, (they expect the S&P 500 to hit 2,000 much sooner than you'd think), expect to see yields to hover between 1 percent to 3 percent next year (but probably closer to 1 percent), and that the firm intends to become 100 percent self-owned when possible.

"We love being private," declared president and chief investment officer Joseph Amato, who noted that the firm is roughy 76 percent employee-owned and that the firm is working to bring that figure to 100 percent gradually.

"We certainly have no plans to go public, [staying private] allows us to stay focused on clients," he said.

Managing director Eli Salzmann echoed on the importance of having no public owner distractions.

"We're a private company that gives incredible resources to portfolio managers to create alpha," he said, noting that Neuberger has some 40 teams that "truly act independently, but also have wonderful dialogue amongst eachother."

The Neuberger panel, which also included managing directors Ann Benjamin, Andrew Johnson, Richard Nackenson, Benjamin Segal, and Anthony Tutrone, presented their sanguine views during a morning press conference with nearly 30 journalists in a conference room at Neuberger's offices at 605 Third Avenue.

The breakfast included the usual tony Manhattan fair, including fruit, salmon, bagels, midget croissants, sausage and these ridiculous little omelette squares.

Salzmann was the wonk who believed that the S&P 500 could hit 2,000, perhaps in as few as six months.

"We are still very bullish. I didn't think we'd be, but we still are," he said.

Noting America's rapidly growing energy independence and the benefits this trend would provide for most consumers, he said that "Christmas will be a lot better than everyone fears."

Johnson, Neuberg's head of investment grade fixed income, expects that the Fed taper would start in mid-2015.

Nackerson was among the wonks expressing confidence that the current market conditions favored active managers.

"I hope everybody but Neuberger Berman goes passive, it will give us a huge advanatge," he said.

Meanwhile, Tutrone noted that private equity has seen its third highest flows in history, with a greater influx of global players. More investors are looking for customization in their arrangements as well, he said. He also noted a growing interest for somehow bringing private equity into DC plans. 

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