En qué consisten los famosos ‘top down’ y ‘bottom up’

Por Antonio Hormigos, director de inversiones de Mirabaud

El mundo financiero utiliza una jerga que en muchos casos es incomprensible para el público. Esto no sería un problema si no fuera porque ese público es quien ahorra a invierte su dinero en nuestros productos. Por tanto creo que deberíamos hacer un esfuerzo para utilizar un lenguaje claro, especialmente cuando pretendemos enviar algún mensaje a personas que no son profesionales de las finanzas. Esta digresión inicial viene a cuento de dos expresiones que se utilizan habitualmente entre los inversores profesionales: el enfoque top down y el enfoque bottom up.

Literalmente significan, respectivamente, de arriba abajo y de abajo a arriba. ¿Qué está arriba? Podríamos decir que se refiere a todo lo que deberíamos tener en cuenta antes de empezar a buscar activos concretos para llenar nuestra cartera: el entorno macroeconómico sería el ejemplo más claro de marco en el que debemos situar la selección de activos. Pero incluso hay condiciones previas que deberíamos tener en cuenta: la situación política y social, relaciones internacionales, cambios tecnológicos, etc. Por tanto un enfoque top down analiza las condiciones del entorno y a partir de ahí toma decisiones concretas. Un ejemplo: como el Banco Central Europeo va ainiciar una etapa de expansión cuantitativa (más jerga, lo siento), algunos inversores asumen la hipótesis de que eso será bueno para los bancos, porque finalmente se producirá un crecimiento de los volúmenes de crédito,  por lo que podría ser una buena inversión comprar bancos para nuestra cartera.

¿Qué hay abajo? En el caso de la bolsa se trataría de  el análisis compañía por compañía, en el cual se intenta dar un valor futuro a las acciones, a partir de una previsión de los resultados de los próximos años. Un inversor con este enfoque construye su cartera mediante la suma de activos individuales, porque está convencido de que cada uno de ellos tiene un potencial de revalorización.

En realidad, aunque sea de manera inconsciente la mayoría de inversores utilizan ambos enfoques. El problema es que posiblemente el enfoque top down conduce a la toma de posiciones con un objetivo más oportunista, más a corto plazo. La mayoría de los análisis estratégicos tienen como horizonte temporal un plazo relativamente corto, algunos meses o como máximo el año natural. Es típico de los bancos de inversión emitir a final de año sus previsiones para el año siguiente. Estas previsiones están llenas, en general de previsiones hechas de buena fe, que tienen por objetivo aventurar dónde estarán a final del año siguiente los tipos de interés, los tipos de cambio de las divisas, los beneficios de las compañías cotizadas y  darán un potencial de revalorización (o de caída) a cada clase de activo. En muchas ocasiones incluso intentarán marcar el camino de esas variaciones, indicando si serán más probables en el primero o en el segundo semestre, por ejemplo. Lo cierto es que, después de muchos años de leer detenidamente estas previsiones e informes estratégicos, la probabilidad de acierto es muy escasa.

El analista bottom up, en cambio, necesariamente debe alargar su horizonte de inversión, ya que las proyecciones de beneficios futuros de las empresas cotizadas se hacen a plazos mucho más largos. Generalmente se descuentan flujos de caja a 10 años o más, y parte de la valoración es un valor residual sin un plazo determinado, como si los beneficios futuros fueran previsibles por ser estables o crecer a una determinada tasa a perpetuidad. Este planteamiento parece ingenuo, pero permite saltar por encima de factores coyunturales y obliga a fijarse en aspectos básicos como la calidad del equipo directivo, la capacidad de mantener una estrategia sostenida en el tiempo y la fortaleza de balance. Construir una cartera de valores con este enfoque nos dará más tranquilidad porque nos obliga a conocer mejor los activos en los que invertimos. Es evidente que sigue siendo preciso revisar los análisis y modificar las previsiones, pero ello será consecuencia, generalmente, de hechos específicos que afectan a los negocios de una compañía: un cambio de equipo gestor, una operación corporativa inesperada, un cambio tecnológico inesperado.

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