A house in Sydney's East? Why not buy a small-cap ...

Martin Pretty from Equitable Investments discussed a comparison between investing in property and directing funds towards the stock market. For instance, Martin suggests that with a similar amount to buying an overpriced house in Sydney's most exclusive suburb, one could buy one of around 80 companies on the ASX at their enterprise value of $10 million or less. The focus is on companies that have devalued significantly, citing an average 84% decline across these businesses over the last three years.

Three small caps with an overlap

19 Mar 2024

Martin Pretty from Equitable Investments offers insights on the small cap market, particularly concerning interest rates and their potential impact on the market. Given the recent trend of high or increasing rates, Martin acknowledges the challenges surrounding investor sentiment, given the market’s optimism regarding rate reductions. Highlighting mixed economic signals and influences on equity buyers, he notes the challenges faced by central banks in balancing inflation with long-term targets.

Three stocks for...

Martin Pretty of Equitable Investments joins us to share his insights on key trends in the current earnings season, noting not all stocks are expected to climb, despite results surpassing bleak retail expectations. Rather than examining the larger elements, Martin says he is more concerned with smaller companies and where they stand within the market...

Pretty's picks

Martin Pretty from Equitable Investments discusses the AGM season's impact on stocks, noting more downgrades than upgrades in their 'fit universe' of financials, industrials, and technology companies. He highlights prevalent inflation pressures and fluctuating consumer spending affecting various sectors. Martin also addresses MedAdvisor's (MDR) strong trading update and Intelligent Monitoring Group's (IMB) promising turnaround, providing an optimistic outlook amidst challenges in small-cap investing.

Pretty's big 'n' smalls 

Martin Pretty from Equitable Investments discussed the underperformance of small caps relative to large caps, highlighting that the valuation gap between them has grown significantly. He sees this disparity as an opportunity for investors, suggesting that undervalued small companies might be recognized by potential acquirers. The technology sector, especially IT and software, stands out as an area ripe for such activity. While wary of timing predictions, Martin believes the current landscape offers promising investment opportunities, both in Australia and the US, amid changing market sentiments. He underscores the importance of patience for long-term growth in small businesses.

Small cap defence (literally)

Martin Pretty from Equitable Investors discusses the tax loss rebound in micro and small cap stocks, with over 80% of them experiencing gains in July. He believes the small end of the market holds significant opportunities, particularly in the defense sector, mentioning companies like DroneShield (DRO) and archTis (AR9). Martin also highlights 8Common (8CO), a software firm with government contracts. Despite illiquidity, he advocates patient investing and looks forward to a broader market rally beyond the dominance of seven mega-cap stocks.

Keeping a private equity mind in public markets | OFX ringing it in

Small caps trade volume has seen quite a decline. To know more on how we can navigate the small cap space and find great opportunities, we were joined by Martin Pretty from Equitable Investments. Pretty said In the broader market, overall activity has been low. However, this trend is particularly noticeable in the small-cap segment. 

MoneyTalks is Stockhead’s regular drill down into what stocks investors are looking at right now. We’ll tap our extensive list of experts to hear what’s hot, their top picks, and what they’re looking out for.

Today we hear from Equitable Investors director Martin Pretty.

What’s hot right now?

Pretty says we are in an environment where there has been a rush to the most liquid investments – or to the exit, which has made capital scarce... [continue]

Do Multiples Matter?

Chris Gosselin, CEO of, speaks with Martin Pretty, Director at Equitable Investors. The Equitable Investors Dragonfly Fund has been operating since September 2017. Over the past 12 months the fund has returned +17.36%, outperforming the index by +7.92%, which returned +9.44%.

Local Equities: Consider Tele-Health And Small Cap Stocks

Martin Pretty from Equitable Investors tells ausbiz why he's focusing on small cap stocks to deliver great returns.

We reckon equity is an key incentive

November 23, 2017 

We reckon that the managers and directors most aligned to maximising shareholder value will be those with a considerable portion of their wealth tied up in equity in the business they are involved in.

Earlier today we used software group Reckon (ASX code: RKN) as an example in this post on livewire. In discussing RKN, we touched very briefly on the evidence backing up our logic on equity incentive.

We discuss this further in Equitable Investors' paper on the factors and inefficiencies we seek to capitalise on as part of our investment process: "Seeking Advantage - Focusing on the Underlying Drivers of Excess Returns Most Evident in Smaller Companies to Optimise Investment Portfolios for Return and Risk". You can find the paper at or by clicking here.

Or you can read our earlier blog entry on Alignment of Interest here

Fundamental anomalies are better explained by mispricing

November 10, 2017

If you've read our "Seeking Advantage" paper (available here) you would know that Equitable Investors believes in fundamental inefficiencies in equities markets. And those views were reconfirmed by a piece of academic research that considered over 18,000 fundamental signals, concluding that:

The research paper, "Fundamental Analysis and the Cross-Section of Stock Returns: A Data-Mining Approach" can be found on the University of Missouri website (here) or you can read a summary from CFA Institute (here).

Consistent with our view, the research finds evidence consistent with the expectation that "the predictive ability of fundamental signals is more pronounced among small stocks".

The top-ranked signal is change in LT/LAGAT (change in total liabilities divided by lagged total assets), with a monthly alpha of −0.74%.

We won't translate all the abbreviations in the table below but we're sure you can work them out.

investment strategist australia

List of top fundamental signals based on t-statistic 

source: Fundamental Analysis and the Cross-Section of Stock Returns: A Data-Mining Approach

New commentary up on livewire: An overlooked small cap agri stock

October 12, 2017

"When your competitors go one way, do you follow them, or do you go the other way?" That question was asked of a room of close to 100 financial advisers by keynote speaker Geoff Ramm at Centrepoint Alliance's annual conference last week. The focus at the time was effective marketing but resonated with this investment manager in a different context.

The stocks that contributed most to the performance of the Equitable Investors' Dragonfly Fund in the month of September were clear cases of neglect. Investors, on the whole, had turned their focus elsewhere...

Read the full article here.

Markets Take Time to be Efficient

September 24, 2017 

Our first contribution to Livewire Markets: Markets are supposed to price in new information efficiently. But for the investor who has done their homework in advance, time is on their side. Stock prices can react gradually rather than instantly to new information. Information can sit in the public domain but not be widely known and understood.

Where was the EPS uplift?

September 04, 2017 

Most of the top-down analysis of the ASX's August reporting season has focused on the surprises and changes in expectations for the S&P/ASX 200. But most of the real action, of course, could be found among stocks that don't have large enough free float market caps to make it in to this key index.

Trying to make sense of the numbers and possibly identify an opportunity or two, we've run the numbers on changes in the consensus expectations among analysts for Earnings Per Share (EPS), using Thomson Reuters data.

Starting where everyone else starts, we count 134 stocks that over the last month experienced upward revisions in EPS expectations for fiscal 2018, compared to 232 downward revisions. The weighted average revision over the last month for the largest 200 stocks (weighted by market capitalisation) was -0.2%.

BUT much of the bad news was pre-warned - the weighted average decline over the past TWO months was -2.4%!

Feel the Cash Burn as Profit Season Closes (or "In memory of Pocketmail")

September 02, 2017 

Another crazy month of reporting financials has come to an end on the ASX, with the typical last minute dump of reports on the evening of August 31 (or the following morning) reflecting unfavourably on business models or financial robustness.

"Have you heard if Company X has approached anyone about a convertible note or something like that", an investor peer asked me in passing on Friday.

No, I hadn't. But I had looked at the financials Company X had just released and I know why he was asking. Cash on hand was equivalent to about 45% of its annual cash burn. Without fresh funding, Company X's brief life could soon come to an end.

Too often founders or cornerstone investors choose to raise just enough funds to get to the next milestone, at which point they are sure investors will significantly revalue the business, allowing a less dilutive round of funding to get to the next milestone.

Get an Edge by Clearing out the Junk

August 29, 2017

While the newly-launched Equitable Investors Dragonfly Fund will typically be focused on micro to mid caps, its investment universe is not defined directly by company size. Equitable Investors seeks out attractive investment characteristics and market inefficiencies that tend to be more prominent - but not exclusively - among smaller firms. 

We've been preparing a paper running through some of the quantitative work researchers have done on the factors and characteristics that help us focus on the listed businesses most worthy of a closer look. 

"Quality" is one focal point.

If you're seeking an investment edge, start small

Micro Caps, Factor Spreads, Structural Biases, and the Institutional Imperative, Factor Investor

July 29, 2017

Ehren Stanhope, a principal with quantitative investment firm O'Shaughnessy Asset Management in the US, has crunched some numbers to highlight that "factor investing is more effective in micro than any other cap range".  See below his table on the performance of factors across the market cap spectrum. His point - instead of starting with large caps and working backwards in search of excess returns, start in the most bountiful segment of the market and work up: "Investors should start building allocations where competition is low and alpha is less scarce—micro cap. "

investment strategist australia

A very successful deployment of a "constructive" approach to investment

The Winner’s Picks, Barron's

June 16, 2017

Alantra Asset Management's EQMC Europe Development Capital fund has averaged more than 20% a year, net of fees, since its inception in 2010. On an annualized three-year basis through the end of 2016, it gained more than 26% a year, putting it at the top of Barron’s Penta’s 2017 ranking of Top 100 Hedge Funds. The managers of the fund say most of their returns are driven by good stock-picking, but they also employ what they call “friendly active investing” to nudge core holdings to improve corporate governance, operations, capital allocation, and strategic decisions. Most company chiefs—typically first-time CEOs of public companies—welcome the managers’ guidance. When they don’t, Llanza and de Juan keep their position small, or move on: "We tend to be very constructive. Our strategy is to see how we can create value and help managers. We don’t see ourselves as a hedge fund. We don’t do leverage. We don’t short. This is a long-only strategy. We take a concentrated portfolio of 10 to 15 companies, and in some cases, we take 15% to 20% positions."

Equitable Investors Pty Ltd  is licensed as an Australian Financial Services Licensee (AFSL No. 505824)