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Equity Perspectives

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Portfolio Manager Tom O'Halloran discusses the power of “creative destruction” and its role in driving six big rivers of growth. 

Transcript

Narrator: This is Lord Abbett's Investment Perspectives.

Mike Weldon: This is Mike Weldon, Partner and Director of Marketing at Lord Abbett. Joining me today is Tom O'Halloran, Partner and Director of Small and Multi Cap Growth. Tom, we look at the world today, we see a slow growth environment, and not only here in the U.S. but outside the U.S., so how does a growth investor work in that environment?

Tom O'Halloran: Well, there's certainly a lot to be concerned about. We had a big buildup of debt after World War II, it culminated in an overleveraged situation and led to the great recession of 2008 and now we're trying to work our way out of it. So the overall economy is growing at a very slow rate in this deleveraging era and there are many other headwinds, like an aging population, educational standards that are not what they need to be et cetera, but it's important to realize that the capitalist system is a system of change where new replaces old. So there is always this dynamism of capitalism that gives rise to growth opportunity.

Mike Weldon: So can you elaborate a little bit on that, on this process of change?

Tom O'Halloran: Right, economist Joseph Schumpeter talked about creative destruction to refer to the innovation of the capitalist system. The idea is that new companies come along, like Amazon, we didn't even have e-commerce in 1990, today it's a $50 Billion dollar company. So companies like this bring about change by destroying the old and replacing it with the new. It is a constant of the capitalist system. It is really the only way the capitalist system can grow and it's the only hope for growth in this world today. That is what we are focused on to try to find growth companies that are exploiting creative destruction.

Mike Weldon: Even in that case, inventing an entire new industry almost. What are some other areas of the economy where you see this playing out?

Tom O'Halloran: Well, we see six big growth rivers that are evident as a result of intensive fundamental analysis of thousands of companies by our team over the past ten years and fortunately it is in a very diversified group of areas to allow us to put together a good portfolio.

The first area is the ongoing digitization of society. We really think the internet is part of an industrial revolution and it's given rise to huge businesses like e-commerce, hosted software, social networks, cloud computing, the mobility boom and it continues to spread throughout society to make the society more digital.

Secondly, is U.S. mass consumerism. This is really a unique historical thing that the United States developed a consumer society that really led the world and allowed our economy to become fully a quarter of the world's economy. You can really see how this is evolving by considering Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Therefore, you know why people pay $5.00 for a cup of coffee because the coffee companies are addressing the lower echelon of the needs hierarchy. This is just going on and on with great consumer companies over the years.

Thirdly, is emerging nations. Now emerging nations are growing at two to five times the rate of the developed world and what they're doing is they're effectively downloading U.S. capitalism. This provides opportunities for companies like search engine companies in Russia and e-commerce companies in Latin America as companies that can grow at a very strong rate.

Fourthly, is modern medicine. This is what historian Niall Ferguson refers to as the west's most powerful killer app. Today modern medicine has tremendous technology at its disposal and is making substantial advances in genomics. This is going to allow biotech companies to be a much bigger part of the economy and deliver much better drugs that will make us feel better and live longer. As well, we have much better procedures so that when we do go under the knife it is nowhere near as invasive as it was in the past.

Fifthly, is the American manufacturing renaissance and there are three things at work here. First, is the competitive position of American companies as significantly better than 20, 30 and 40 years ago. Second, the American manufacturers have much bigger markets to sell into, Boeing can now sell planes to Singapore Airlines, now, for example, they couldn't do that 20 years ago. Then thirdly, there's a technology led productivity boom in manufacturing coming from things like fiber optic lasers and 3D printing.

Then sixth is the North American energy revival. It wasn't that long ago that we thought that the world was going to run out of oil, that it was all in the Middle East and someday we would run out of it. Well, because of American ingenuity and horizontal drilling, we discovered 100 to 200 years of energy trapped underneath our feet that we're now extracting. Additionally, alternative energy sources, renewable sources like solar are going to be a big part of our energy future. Solar energy in particular is engaged in a major comeback. The Chinese companies produced some faulty modules that are now losing money, they've withdrawn from the market and the pricing has improved. Meanwhile, companies like Sun Power have continued to lower the cost of producing the modules and, surprisingly, American demand is booming, as it was up 500% last year.

These are six big growth rivers that allow portfolio opportunities across all of them and within them. For example, we owned a lot of shale energy producers a couple of years ago, but they did such a great job of producing that the price of their production has gone down making them less attractive so we now are concentrated more in solar.

We think that creative destruction is evident in these six big growth rivers and that they provide us a great opportunity for a diversified portfolio of growth companies which should really stand out in this slow growth environment.

Mike Weldon: So a lot of very exciting opportunities out there and you've mentioned a little bit about the way you look at the world but talk more about the team that you have in place and maybe a little bit more about your process.

Tom O'Halloran: Yes, we have a team of five senior professionals on the Small Cap team and we have 20 senior research analysts on the All Cap team. So we have more than enough resources here at Lord Abbett. We have a lot of access to companies which is very important for our process and we have a very focused process. We're trying to find the very best companies. We think that companies are as unequal as people are so we want to own the growth leaders of tomorrow. We believe that they possess four characteristics, two are at the microeconomic level and two at the macroeconomic level.

At the microeconomic level we want to make sure that they have a sound business model, meaning one that has a reasonably stable revenue stream and one that gets more profitable as it gets bigger. Secondly, we want to make sure that the managements are competent and credible. We're talking about competency, we're talking about ability, drive, intelligence and when we're talking about credibility, we're talking about trustworthiness. So these are people, these companies, they're living organisms, essentially, so we want to make sure the managements are superior.

You can have a very fine business model and a very fine manager or group of managers, but if your industry conditions are not healthy, it will not be a good thing. We realize these companies that we've just talked about in a microeconomic sense operate in a macroeconomic environment. So we want to make sure that the industry that they're operating in is healthy and supportive of growth and not hostile to growth. The industry conditions for solar were hostile between 2008 and 2012 and now they're favorable. So we weren't involved then, mostly, and now we're involved to a fairly significant extent.

Then fourthly, we want to make sure the company demonstrates a competitive advantage. If we're going to own the growth leaders, they will be leaders of the industries they're in or, at the very least, gaining share in moving up toward the top.

So these are the four things that we look for that makes a business special. We don't own businesses, we own stocks so maybe there are 300 or so special companies but at any one point in time there may be 80 or 90 of those that will make the best stocks. The reason they make the best stocks is that their revenue and earnings growth is driving the outperformance.

So we think our process is very focused, relatively simple and repeatable therefore, and aligns very well in this environment where growth leaders should lead the market, I believe.

Mike Weldon: Okay, thanks very much Tom. This has been Lord Abbett's Investment Perspectives, thanks for watching.

Narrator: For more information on this topic, or to access other videos, audio files, articles or commentary, please explore Lordabbett.com.

As of June 30, 2013 there were five senior professionals on the Small Cap team and 20 senior research analysts on the All Cap team.

The value of investments in equity securities will fluctuate in response to general economic conditions and to changes in the prospects of particular companies and/or sectors in the economy. While growth stocks are subject to the daily ups and downs of the stock market, their long-term potential as well as their volatility can be substantial. Investing in international securities generally poses greater risk than investing in domestic securities, including greater price fluctuations and higher transaction costs. Special risks are inherent to international investing, including those related to currency fluctuations and foreign, political, and economic events. These risks can be greater in the case of emerging country securities. No investing strategy can overcome all market volatility or guarantee future results.

Diversification does not guarantee a profit or protect against loss in declining markets.

The source for Amazon today being a $50 billion dollar company and emerging nations growing at two to five times the rate of the developed world mentioned in this video is Bloomberg.

The source for Sun Power lowering their cost of producing energy modules is Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The source for U.S. solar energy production rising 500% last year is U.S. Energy Information Administration and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

This broadcast serves as reference material for information purposes only; does not constitute an offer to acquire, solicitation for an offer to acquire, an offer to sell or solicitation for an offer to buy, any securities, nor is intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research, or investment advice on any securities, and cannot be used for any of the foregoing.

The views and opinions expressed by the Lord Abbett speaker are those of the speaker as of the date of the broadcast, and do not necessarily represent the views of the firm as a whole. Any such views are subject to change at any time based upon market or other conditions and Lord Abbett disclaims any responsibility to update such views. Neither Lord Abbett nor the Lord Abbett speaker can be responsible for any direct or incidental loss incurred by applying any of the information offered.

The value of investments and any income from them is not guaranteed and may fall as well as rise, and an investor may not get back the amount originally invested. Please consult your investment professional for additional information concerning your specific situation.

This broadcast is the copyright ? 2013 of Lord, Abbett & Co. LLC. All Rights Reserved. This recording may not be reproduced in whole or in part or any form without the permission of Lord Abbett. Lord Abbett mutual funds are distributed by Lord Abbett Distributor LLC.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ANY LORD ABBETT FUNDS, CONTACT YOUR INVESTMENT PROFESSIONAL OR LORD ABBETT DISTRIBUTOR LLC AT 888-522-2388, OR VISIT US AT WWW.LORDABBETT.COM FOR A PROSPECTUS WHICH CONTAINS IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT A FUND'S INVESTMENT GOALS, SALES CHARGES, EXPENSES AND RISKS THAT AN INVESTOR SHOULD CONSIDER AND READ CAREFULLY BEFORE INVESTING.

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