FT Adviser Interview With Robert Horrocks

Interesting interview with Robert Horrocks in this week’s FT Adviser. Horrocks is the chief investment officer at Matthews Asia. He discussed his route into the industry, the challenges of marketing Asia to investors in the US and his outlook for the region.

Some highlights below (quotes taken directly from the article):

  • On investing in Asia from San Francisco: “It’s not that you can’t do it in Asia, but when you specialise in Asian markets – and they can be volatile, plus the fact you have to take a long-term strategic approach – it’s often easier to do with a little bit of distance.”
  • On people in the US being very sceptical and pessimistic on Asia, and particularly China: “We don’t want to be a cheerleader, but sometimes we’re forced to defend it as a region, as a concept and as an economy. There’s this idea that China’s growth has somehow been fake. I spend a lot of time explaining what China used to be like when I lived there as a student in 1987. The idea that this growth is somehow fake is to me an horrendous misconception.”
  • On his firm’s investment approach: “You find yourself talking a lot about the macro, and the difficult side of that is we’re not a macro house. Everything is geared about finding the right businesses. There are sectors where we have more investments and the same with countries, but that’s because they have more businesses that we like.”
  • On his outlook for the region: “What we’ve seen in Asia in the past five years is a divergence between the underlying economic growth, which has been good, and corporate earnings growth, which has been non-existent. I suspect they’ll start to move much more in tandem in the years ahead. It looks more optimistic than it has done for a while. The caveat is valuations, which may look expensive in the global context, but while they’re not outright cheap, they’re reasonable.”