Sean D. Emory
Avory Monthly Bulletin - May
May was a busy month, as our schedule was filled with earnings reports and investor days from companies we own or follow closely. The overall conclusions were constructive, with most companies successfully navigating the broad macro and geo-political challenges. The list of challenges is long, which is the driving force behind weak investor sentiment. However, we are starting to see positive signs in several areas that should help alleviate concerns.
The main concern is inflation and what that ultimately means for the federal reserve's pace and magnitude of rate hikes. If you have been following our comments closely, we have been speaking about the declining price of used cars and other durable goods, which is starting to show in official consumer price index (CPI) reports. Remember, CPI is a lagging indicator and reflects what happened, not what is happening.
Google Search trends for car purchases have come down to the lowest level on record, and a decline in used car prices has followed this up on websites we track over the last 30 and 90 days. Additionally, rent prices on Apartment List are falling, which should help support weaker inflation readings throughout 2022. The driver is that interest rates such as mortgages in the real economy are higher despite the FED funds rate only sitting around 1%.
Another primary concern is fear of a recession. Coming into 2022, we expected weaker growth than the prior year. This is entirely due to the extent of the increase in 2021, along with no stimulus in 2022 vs. 2021. Ultimately, we believe that this balancing act will help alleviate supply chains and bring inflation down.
Despite many of the issues going on in the world, we continue to witness the management teams of our investment companies execute. They are balancing cash flow, revenue growth, and future investments while understanding the environment we sit in today. We learned a lot this past month and remain confident in the medium and long-term business prospects. For example, Zoom showcased continued demand for communication software with enterprise sales growing 30%. Salesforce grew 20% showing demand from sales teams globally, and Capri grew 28%, showing the sustained demand for luxury.
Next Monday at 11am EST, we have our webinar "How Our Investment Companies are Navigating World Dynamics". We will update you on the health of our companies post their just announced earnings reports.