14 September 2022

Investing in forestry: The case for timber allocations in insurance portfolios

How can insurance investors achieve effective inflation protection, while also benefiting from a high return on capital, a regular income and a low volatility return profile?

For insurers with long-term investment horizons, the answer could be provided by investing in forestry, via a portfolio allocation to timber assets.

A timber allocation provides several benefits

High return on capital

Forestry ranks highly from a return-on-capital perspective under the Solvency II standard formula, offering a comparable return on capital to direct lending.

Source: Barclays Point, Bloomberg PORT, J.P. Morgan Asset Management. *

Attractive risk and return profile

Our risk/return analysis suggests that making a 1%-5% strategic allocation to timberland from existing allocations could improve returns and reduce balance sheet risk for a typical European life insurer.

Risk/Return impact of reallocating 1%-5% of current portfolio allocations to selected asset classes

Source: J.P. Morgan analysis.as at January 2022. Forecast and analysis are not a reliable indicator of future results.

Low correlation to other assets

Timber can bring strong diversification properties to portfolios. In our regression-based factor model, timber, along with infrastructure equity, has a low R-squared score, which means historical returns are not well explained by most standard investment factors. In turn, this means that these asset classes arguably bring new factor exposures to a portfolio.

Asset class correlations to standard investment factors

Source: J.P. Morgan Asset Management analysis. For illustrative purposes only.

Defensive exposure in volatile markets

In historical market stress events, exposure to diversifying risk factors not found in public markets has helped forestry to perform well compared to the majority of risk assets, with only modest losses (or even modest gains) produced through the biggest crises and rising rate scenarios of the last 20 years.

Historical asset class stress tests

Source: J.P. Morgan Asset Management as at January 2022. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Inflation protection

Forestry exhibits a strong positive correlation to inflation, which is helpful in the current inflationary economic environment.

Correlations between asset classes and inflation

Alignment with sustainability goals

Investing in the preservation of forest land results in environmental and societal benefits, which align with many clients' corporate values. Forestry, for example, provides an effective and scalable mechanism for sequestering atmospheric carbon, and represents just under 40% of the current supply of carbon offsets at a time when many businesses are looking to achieve low or even net-zero carbon emissions from their operations.

Global carbon emissions and offsets

Source: Global Carbon Atlas

The strategic case for timber investing

Timber provides a middle ground between liquid and illiquid alternatives. While levels of liquidity can be relatively low, timber has attractive long-term return potential and can generate a regular income, which can be particularly valuable in periods of high inflation and rising interest rates. Timber's ability to offset greenhouse gas emissions through the sequestration of atmospheric carbon provides additional sustainability credentials to any portfolio allocation.

At J.P. Morgan Asset Management, our sustainable timberland investor and forestry management company Campbell Global offers expert timber investment solutions.

Find out more


For Professional Clients/ Qualified Investors only – not for Retail use or distribution.

This is a marketing communication and as such the views contained herein are not to be taken as advice or a recommendation to buy or sell any investment or interest thereto. Reliance upon information in this material is at the sole discretion of the reader. Any research in this document has been obtained and may have been acted upon by J.P. Morgan Asset Management for its own purpose. The results of such research are being made available as additional information and do not necessarily reflect the views of J.P. Morgan Asset Management. Any forecasts, figures, opinions, statements of financial market trends or investment techniques and strategies expressed are, unless otherwise stated, J.P. Morgan Asset Management's own at the date of this document. They are considered to be reliable at the time of writing, may not necessarily be all inclusive and are not guaranteed as to accuracy. They may be subject to change without reference or notification to you. It should be noted that the value of investments and the income from them may fluctuate in accordance with market conditions and investors may not get back the full amount invested. Past performance and yield are not a reliable indicator of current and future results. There is no guarantee that any forecast made will come to pass. J.P. Morgan Asset Management is the brand name for the asset management business of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and its affiliates worldwide. To the extent permitted by applicable law, we may record telephone calls and monitor electronic communications to comply with our legal and regulatory obligations and internal policies. Personal data will be collected, stored and processed by J.P. Morgan Asset Management in accordance with our EMEA Privacy Policy www.jpmorgan.com/emea-privacy-policy. This communication is issued in Europe (excluding UK) by JPMorgan Asset Management (Europe) S.à r.l., 6 route de Trèves, L-2633 Senningerberg, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, R.C.S. Luxembourg B27900, corporate capital EUR 10.000.000. This communication is issued in the UK by JPMorgan Asset Management (UK) Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England No. 01161446. Registered address: 25 Bank Street, Canary Wharf, London E14 5JP.


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