Global Balanced portfolio outlook, positioning, and attribution as of 12/31/2020

December 31, 2020


  • We expect economic recovery and expansion to continue in 2021, amid ongoing U.S. consumer strength and business investment as COVID-19 vaccinations help release pent-up demand in certain parts of the economy.
  • We anticipate positive equity market returns this year as rising earnings expectations for cyclical stocks should offset a likely decline in valuation multiples, which is typical early in a cycle.
  • Sector allocation will be increasingly important in the U.S. in 2021, in our view, as the ongoing recovery and expansion drive a rebound in earnings for cyclical sectors and areas of the economy hardest hit by the pandemic, such as retail, travel, and leisure.
  • Internationally, Europe already had a weak economy before the pandemic, in our view, and is now facing renewed pandemic lockdowns, while economic data has shown that Emerging Asia leads other regions in its economic recovery, which should support positive GDP and earnings growth in 2021.
  • While risks remain, we anticipate more economically-sensitive equity sectors and regions will benefit from early-phase cyclical tailwinds as earnings growth rebounds with economic recovery.
  • We anticipate Treasury yields could rise 50 basis points or more in 2021, driven by rising real yields and inflation expectations, though inflation should remain benign, given ongoing slack in the economy, while corporate spreads, in our view, should persist (or modestly compress) and, along with lower duration, help drive corporate bond outperformance.

Portfolio Positioning

  • We have continued to shift away from the relatively defensive portfolio positioning in place at the start of the COVID-19 crisis, while seeking to balance opportunity against ongoing medical, political, and economic risks.
  • Since late Q1 2020, we have increased exposures to more economically-sensitive areas of the markets, including adding to Emerging Asia exposure and establishing allocations to U.S. Financials, Industrials, Energy, and small cap equities; and we eliminated exposure to the large-cap U.S. Consumer Staples and Utilities sectors, which are less economically sensitive.
  • We maintain an overweight of Emerging Asian equities, which provides exposure to favorable secular trends in the Information Technology, Communication Services, and Consumer Discretionary sectors, while we maintain an underweight to Europe and Japan.
  • Within the fixed-income allocation, we retain an overweight to investment-grade corporate bonds and a shorter average duration than the benchmark to manage interest rate risk.

Q4 Attribution

Positive Contributors:


  • U.S. Small-Cap Equities
  • U.S. Corporate Fixed-Income Securities


  • U.S. Treasury Securities

Negative Contributors:


  • U.S. Equities


  • European Equities
  • Long-Term Fixed Income

Attribution Analysis is relative to the Global Balanced benchmark and was current as of the date specified in this presentation. A complete attribution report is available upon request.

The most recent complete presentation can be viewed here.

Any portfolio characteristics, including position sizes and sector allocations among others, are generally averages and are for illustrative purposes only and do not reflect the investments of an actual portfolio unless otherwise noted. The investment guidelines of an actual portfolio may permit or restrict investments that are materially different in size, nature and risk from those shown. The investment processes, research processes or risk processes shown herein are for informational purposes to demonstrate an overview of the process. Such processes may differ by product, client mandate or market conditions. Portfolios that are concentrated in a specific sector or industry may be subject to a higher degree of market risk than a portfolio whose investments are more diversified.

Holdings, Sector Weightings and Portfolio Characteristics were current as of the date specified in this presentation. The listing of particular securities should not be considered a recommendation to purchase or sell these securities. While these securities were among WestEnd Advisors’ Global Balanced holdings at the time this material was assembled, holdings will change over time. There can be no assurance that the securities remain in the portfolio or that other securities have not been purchased. It should not be assumed that recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of the securities presently in the portfolio. Individual clients’ portfolios may vary. Upon request, WestEnd Advisors will provide a list of all recommendations for the prior year.

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