Herro: "Real" Economy Doing Well

Oakmark’s David Herro — who last year was named one of Morningstar’s Fund Managers of the Decade — says that European debt fears and dire predictions about the global economy remain overblown.

“Despite all of the market turmoil and lack of confidence, the ‘real’ global economy seems to be holding up quite well, due in large part to sustained growth in the large emerging nations,” Herro writes in a recent letter to shareholders. “We have met with dozens of companies from all over the globe that sell their products to customers all over the globe, and none have yet to see a severe slowdown. And while the IMF has recently lowered its estimate of global economic growth, that growth is still expected to be a respectable 4% for 2011 and the same in 2012.”

Herro says the market has been acting as though a number of European countries, including Italy, Spain, Ireland and France, are “in the same dire circumstance as Greece”. But, he says, “while a widespread default scenario is possible, it is EXTREMELY unlikely.”

Herro says he’s been using the market declines as an opportunity to add to some positions. “Conditions in global equity markets are volatile and erratic, with changes in share prices reflecting short-term macro fears rather than long-term business fundamentals,” he writes. “This is often the case, and when it arises, it provides us with investment opportunity. Emotion in the market makes it difficult for businesses, but in general, they are still growing and earning acceptable returns. As such, we remain confident that by remaining disciplined and focused on the long term, we are well-positioned for future success.”