The World Cup and Investing

in Business/Raymond James by

The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off in June with host country Russia facing off against Saudi Arabia. The World Cup is held every four years to crown a world soccer champion. Although it is growing in popularity, soccer viewership in the U.S. still lags that of other sports like American football and basketball. However, as Bloomberg reports, globally, soccer reigns supreme; FIFA estimates that more than 3.2 billion people worldwide watched the 2014 World Cup with more than one billion tuning in to watch the final between Argentina and Germany.

Soccer’s massive popularity internationally has endowed it with unique cultural status in many countries. In some places, soccer is referred to as the “beautiful game,” and as the game has evolved, each country has developed its own playing style. For instance, the style of play in Brazil is called “ginga” which is a combination of fluid movements and rhythm, much like the Samba. If you watch the Brazilian team play, you’ll see a game of quick dance-like moves, efficient passing, and flair. This is why they call the Brazilian game, “joga bonito” — translated from Portuguese to mean “play beautifully.” 

But, if you take the Italian team, they will play with staunch defense and not the first hint of the Samba, but will suddenly and aggressively implement a counter-attacking strategy that can catch their prey flat-footed. Although the two styles of play differ immensely, Brazil and Italy are two of the most successful in World Cup history – Brazil has won the World Cup five times, more than any other team, while Italy is tied with 2014 winner Germany for the second-most wins at four. Two very different approaches have been tremendously successful, proving there is indeed more than one “right answer” to the question of how to win a World Cup. 

The key in soccer, as in investing, is employing a sound strategy and executing it well. There is no one single investment approach that is right for the temperament of all investors, but a great many that can work well if applied correctly. Relative Strength-based investing is our chosen “style of play.” Just as powerhouses like Brazil and Italy can’t expect to win every World Cup tournament, we don’t expect our style of play to win every time, but we can be confident that it will keep us in the game time and time again.

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) puts together the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings to objectively rank the best national soccer teams. By looking at past performance, they rank the national teams from strongest to weakest, with the expectation that the teams at the top are likely to continue to perform better than the teams at the bottom. Looking at the rankings entering the World Cup, we saw that 2014 champion Germany remained ranked No. 1, followed by perennial contender Brazil. In fact, of the 32 teams qualifying for the 2018 World Cup (out of 211 total teams), 20 of them also competed in the 2014 World Cup.  For those who read our articles often, this should sound familiar.  

Our Relative Strength process operates similarly, comparing different assets against each other and then ranking them from strongest to weakest such that the assets at the top of the matrix have developed trends of outperformance. We know that these trends tend to sustain themselves for extended durations of time and so we look to these leaders to remain competitive until proven otherwise.  Staying on top of your game and sticking to your discipline is an investor’s key to long-term success — just as in competitive sports.

** This article was written by Dorsey Wright and Associates, Inc., and provided to you by Charles Tumlin, Managing Director, TLS Wealth Management of Raymond James.

Charles Tumlin is a Financial Advisor with Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC located at 305 Carteret Street, Beaufort SC 29902.

He can be contacted at 843-379-6100 or charles.tumlin@raymondjames.comor visit our website at: www.tlswealthmanagement.com

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