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North Macedonia is looking for a miracle; and while Dutch diversification is key for investors, the national football team will not want to deviate from its winning strategy






So … both my predictions of a 1-0 victory for Euro 2020 new boys North Macedonia have preceded two hard-fought but ultimately point-free losses – 1-3 to Austria in the Group C opener and then 1-2 to Ukraine last Thursday.

On the bright side, my ability to call the number of goals the North Macedonians will score remains 100%; less positively, if this is not to be my last commentary this tournament, the team need a big result today.

Less positively still, next up for North Macedonia are the Netherlands, who sit top of the group having already seen off the aforementioned Austria and Ukraine, which suggests some sort of miracle may be required. Serendipitously enough, that leads me onto the final offering from my Big Book of North Macedonia Facts, which is that capital city Skopje is the birthplace of Mother Teresa, now venerated as St Teresa of Calcutta.

Born on 26 August 1910 in what the good, good folk of Wikipedia assure me was then part of the Kosovo Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire, Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu left Skopje at the age of 18 bound for India via Ireland, where she spent a year learning English. In 1950 Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, whose members continue to minister to the needy through 760 homes in almost 140 countries.

Among the vows taken by those 5,000-plus members is to give “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor” and Mother Teresa led by example in that endeavour until her death in September 1997. Among the honours she received in her lifetime was the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize and she was canonised by the Roman Catholic Church in 2016.

Returning to football, my prediction? As if you had to ask … shock of the tournament – a 1-0 to win North Macedonia.






Last time I wrote about the Dutch AEX Index outperforming many of its international peers since the end of 2019. Also since then, the dispersion in performance between the 25 index names is enormous.

Since the start of 2020, the share prices of ASMI, Adyen en ASML more than doubled, the first one even tripled. At the bottom of the list we find stocks that in the meantime have been relegated to the midcap index, the AMX: Galapagos, Aalberts and ABN Amro. Of the current AEX constituents, Unibail Rodamco and Royal Dutch Shell lost more than 30%.

So, a lot of dispersion within the index and with an index return of more than 20% since then, the importance of diversification once again comes to mind. And with the importance of a well-diversified portfolio in mind, we currently prefer so-called value stocks.

Growth stocks, like the aforementioned IT companies – which I think are still the winners in the long term – saw their profits surge during the pandemic. These profits are now where they ought to be three or four years from now. The same can probably be said about their share prices. They might have risen so much that the returns for the next few years could be somewhat subdued.

On the other hand, some companies’ profits and share prices are lower than before the pandemic. With economies reopening, they already did relatively well this year but are still lagging pre-pandemic levels. So we see some opportunities there.

I mentioned the biggest losers above, but the AEX also accommodates a lot of great companies that made below-average returns in the last year and a half. What about Unilever, Relx and Just Eat Takeaway?

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