Gabelli Funds, LLC

Gabelli's November 2022 update on the US market

U.S. equities rebounded in October, with the S&P recording its second-best monthly performance for the year. This month saw the kickoff of Q3 earnings with over half of the S&P 500 companies having reported through 10/28. Takeaways from the first few weeks of earnings included FX headwinds, continued supply chain disruptions, still-elevated raw materials costs and fears of a weakening macro backdrop. However, credit card companies and banks reiterated that consumer spending continued to show signs of resilience despite surging inflation.
Several catalysts will be in focus as potential drivers to push markets higher before year-end, such as an inflection point in the Russia-Ukraine war, U.S. midterm elections or inflation data indicating that prices are no longer rising.
Performance in the Merger Arbitrage space in October was driven by the closing of several deals, most notably Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, Berkshire Hathaway’s $12 billion acquisition of Alleghany, and Vista Equity’s $8bn acquisition of Avalara.  The strategy also benefitted from a bump in consideration in two transactions. Philip Morris raised its offer for Swedish Match from SEK 106 to SEK 116 per share in order to secure enough shareholder support to complete the transaction. Additionally, Flagstar Bancorp shareholders received an increase in terms of $2.50 per share, which was paid as a special dividend, as they awaited the final regulatory approvals needed to complete the merger with New York Community Bancorp.
For the convertibles market, the fourth quarter on a positive note after a very negative year. Sentiment was quite low coming into earnings season and the result has been generally positive. We had numerous holdings outperform significantly after beating what were admittedly low expectations. We also had a few surprises to the downside as some companies guided cautiously. Premium expansion as stocks moved lower helped limit some of the downside we saw relative to the underlying equities. This is a key attribute of convertibles as it helps to provide asymmetrical returns