Driverless Cars Are Poised to Deliver Benefits for Drivers, Investors—and Even the UK Economy

Driverless Cars Are Poised to Deliver Benefits for Drivers, Investors—and Even the UK Economy

Written by: Richard Lightbound, CEO of ROBO Global EMEA

In the world of robotics, many ideas that once seemed to be the unattainable dreams of forward-thinking visionaries are quickly coming to life. Robot-assisted surgery is delivering better patient outcomes at less cost. Automated warehouses are making it possible for retailers like Amazon and Ocado to fulfill customer orders faster and cheaper than ever. Amputees can now control robotic limbs with their minds. Agricultural robots are revolutionizing how crops are planted, monitored, fed, weeded, watered, and harvested. The list of transformative and often industry-disruptive innovations in robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence (or “RAAI”) grows longer every day.

While Parliament may not typically come to mind when discussing innovation of any kind, British finance minister Philip Hammond caused many heads to turn last week when he announced that the new budget would include measures to encourage the development of driverless cars. He went on to say that he wanted the UK to be one of the first countries to allow driverless cars—as soon as 2021. "Some would say that's a bold move,” said Hammond, “but we have to embrace these technologies if we want the UK to lead the next industrial revolution."1

It’s no surprise that Parliament is focused on taking whatever steps are necessary to kick the UK economy into super drive. With Brexit scheduled to take effect on March 29, 2019, the country has just over a year to build an economy that can function independently of the EU. Perhaps that challenge was just the catalyst that was needed to get the country to embrace all that RAAI has to offer.

That said, though Parliament may have seen the light when it comes to the potential of driverless cars, not everyone is so enthusiastic. Why? Giving up physical control over the cars we drive can make any driver feel at risk. But the numbers tell a different story. The World Health Organization recently reported that about 1.25M people are killed in car accidents every year. Even more, the report states that “without sustained action, road traffic crashes are predicted to become the seventh leading cause of death by 2030.”2

Related: Not So Modern Times: The Backwards Thinking of Charlie Chaplin and Jeremy Corbyn

Luckily, that “sustained action” is coming in the form of driverless cars. Independent think-tank RethinkX recently stated that “we are on the cusp of one of the fastest . . . most consequential disruptions of transportation in history,” and predicted that 95% of US passenger miles will be made by autonomous, electric, on-demand vehicle fleets within 10 years of receiving widespread regulatory approval.Perhaps RethinkX’s most dramatic prediction is that the number of passenger vehicles on American roads will likely drop from 247M today to just 44M by 2030—just 13 years from now.

If you’re still not convinced that driverless cars are destined to be an integral part of the very-near future, consider the major investments that are being made in this sector today:

  • In February, Ford invested $1B in a joint venture with autonomous vehicle tech firm Argo AI to create a separate company with the mission of outfitting Ford vehicles with self-driving technology.
  • In March, Intel announced its acquisition of Mobileye, a leader in computer vision for autonomous driving technology, for $15.3B in an effort to position Intel as a “leading technology provider in the fast-growing market for highly and fully autonomous vehicles.”
  • In September, Chinese search engine Baidu Inc. (BIDU.O) announced a 10B yuan ($1.52B) autonomous driving fund to speed up its technical development and compete with US rivals.4
  • In October, driverless tech startup Nauto announced that it has hired executives from Microsoft and Alphabet’s self-driving arm Waymo to continue to expand its geographic reach and build on its partnerships with investors such as General Motors, BMW, and Toyota.
  • In October, Delphi, one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, announced its acquisition of Boston-based self-driving car startup nuTonomy for $400M. NuTonomy already has autonomous taxis in operation in Singapore and will soon begin testing self-driving vehicles in Boston.
  • Just last week, Uber announced a plan to buy up to 24,000 Volvo cars by 2021 to partially replace today’s freelance drivers with a fleet of fully autonomous, on-demand passenger vehicles.

The momentum is clear: across the automotive supply chain, innovators are racing to deliver safe, automated vehicles that can help save lives and, perhaps, bolster economies around the world—including within the UK. Investors seeking to take advantage of this momentum would be wise to seek out diverse opportunities across the automated vehicle supply chain. To help, the ROBO Global Robotics & Automation Index offers investors broad exposure to the entire value chain of RAAI, including more than 10 companies who are dedicated to bringing the vision of driverless cars to life.

1 Hammond: Driverless cars will be on UK roads by 2021, BBC News, November 19, 2017

Road Traffic Injuries Fact Sheet, World Health Organization, May 2017

3 Driverless cars may kill off the world’s deadliest invention, The Financial Times, November 2017

4 China’s Baidu launches $1.5 billion autonomous driving fund, Reuters, September 20, 2017


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Multi-Factor or Not Multi-Factor? That Is the Question

Multi-Factor or Not Multi-Factor? That Is the Question

Written by: Chris Shuba, Helios Quantitative Research, LLC

Let’s pretend you are a US investor that wants to deploy some of your money overseas.  You think international developed market stocks are attractive relative to US stocks, and you also think the US dollar will decline over the period you intend to hold your investment.  Your investment decision is logical to you. But you have choices:  You could a) simply invest in a traditional index like the MSCI EAFE, b) invest in a fund that systematically emphasizes a single factor (like a value fund) that only buys specific stocks related to that factor, or c) invest in a developed fund that blends several factors together, like the JPMorgan Diversified Return International Equity ETF (JPIN).  What is the best choice? 

Investing in a traditional international market capitalization index like the MSCI EAFE is not a bad choice. It has delivered nice returns for a US investor, especially uncorrelated outperformance in the 1970s and 1980s, and helped to diversify a US-only portfolio.

Your second choice is to invest in one particular factor because it makes sense to you.  Sticking with the example of a value strategy, you might believe a fund or index that chooses the cheapest or most attractively valued stocks based on metrics like Price to Earnings (PE) is best.  

You could go find a discretionary portfolio manager who only buys stocks he deems to be cheap.  Typically the concept of “cheap” is based on some absolute metric that the manager has in mind, such as never buying a stock with a PE greater than 15.  If there are not enough stocks that are attractive, he will hold his money in cash until he finds the prudent bargains he seeks.  This prudence also obviously risks possible underperformance from being absent from the market.

The alternative is to buy a value index or fund that systematically only buys the cheapest stocks in a particular investment universe.  So if there are 1000 investable stocks available, the index ONLY buys the cheapest decile of 100 stocks and is always fully invested in the 100 securities that are relatively cheapest.  This is an investment approach that a discretionary manger may disdain.  The discretionary value manager may look at those same 100 stocks and think they are pricey.  But nevertheless, academic research has shown that always being fully invested in the relatively cheapest percentiles of stocks in the US has produced superior returns over many decades. 

Such a portfolio is called a “factor” portfolio.  Why the name?   In the early 1960s, academics introduced the concept of beta and demonstrated that individual US stocks had sensitivities to, and were driven by, movements in the broad market.  In the early 1990s, academic research began to show that other “factors” such as value and size also drove US stock returns.  Since then, several factors have been identified as driving individual stock outperformance: value, size, volatility, momentum and quality.  Stocks that are cheaper, smaller, less volatile, have more positive annual returns and higher profitability have historically outperformed their peers.  It turns out these factors also work internationally.

Related: Who Gets Sick When the U.S. Sneezes?

Of all the factors, value is the factor that has been the best known the longest (even before it was academically identified as a “factor”), thanks to the books of Warren Buffet’s teacher Ben Graham.   And if you look abroad at an array of developed global markets and create a value index and compare it to its simple market capitalization weighted brother, the historic outperformance of value has been stunning.  Until recently.  

While there was some variability by country, on average from the mid-1970s up until 2005 a value factor portfolio in a developed market outperformed its market cap weighted index by about 2% a year.  That’s a lot. By contrast, since 2005, the average developed country value portfolio has underperformed a market cap indexes by about -40 basis points.  Which is the danger of investing in one factor.  It may not always work at every point in time.

So if investing in one factor like value runs the risk of underperforming, how about a multi-factor international developed equity portfolio?

Below is a breakdown of individual factor portfolios’ performance in international developed equity markets since 2005, an equal weighted factor portfolio as well the performance of the MSCI EAFE as our performance reference.  Note that, for the last 13 years, value has been the poorest factor by far, while the others have handily beaten the EAFE.  An equal weighted portfolio of all 5 factors, while not as optimal as some of the individual factor results, beats the EAFE by 1.6% and has an information ratio, or risk adjusted returns that are superior by 37%.  The equal weighted factor portfolio also has the advantage of not having to predict which factor will work when, so even when a factor like value does not beat the market, the other factors can pick up the slack.

SOURCE: MSCI, Data as of January 31, 2018. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Shown for illustrative purposes only.

The equal weighted factor portfolio has one other advantage over the market cap weighted alternative. Note in the chart below how well the portfolio outperformed in the 2008 crisis, so it tends to do relatively well in highly volatile sell offs.

SOURCE: MSCI, Data as of January 31, 2018. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Shown for illustrative purposes only.

While it’s not inconceivable that one or two of these factors could erode, or underperform for a stretch, the fact that you have exposure to multiple factors in a portfolio that seems to do especially well in crises suggest the multi-factor blended portfolio remains the most attractive way to invest in developed markets.

So, when asked the question: Multi-factor or not multi-factor?  The data speaks for itself.

Learn more about alternative beta and our ETF capabilities here.

DEFINITIONS: Price to earnings (P/E) ratio:  The price-earnings ratio (P/E ratio) is the ratio for valuing a company that measures its current share price relative to its per-share earnings.

DISCLOSURES: MSCI EAFE Investable Market Index (IMI): The MSCI EAFE Investable Market Index (IMI), is an equity index which captures large, mid and small cap representation across Developed Markets countries* around the world, excluding the US and Canada. The index is based on the MSCI Global Investable Market Indexes (GIMI) Methodology—a comprehensive and consistent approach to index construction that allows for meaningful global views and cross regional comparisons across all market capitalization size, sector and style segments and combinations. This methodology aims to provide exhaustive coverage of the relevant investment opportunity set with a strong emphasis on index liquidity, investability and replicability. The index is reviewed quarterly—in February, May, August and November—with the objective of reflecting change in the underlying equity markets in a timely manner, while limiting undue index turnover. During the May and November semi-annual index reviews, the index is rebalanced and the large, mid and small capitalization cutoff points are recalculated.

Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives and risks as well as charges and expenses of the ETF before investing. The summary and full  prospectuses contain this and other information about the ETF. Read the prospectus carefully before investing. Call 1-844-4JPM-ETF or visit to obtain a prospectus.
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