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Witan Pacific Investment Trust

Diversified exposure to pan-Asian equities

Review | Investment Companies | 02 Nov 2018

Witan Pacific Investment Trust (WPC) offers investors broad exposure to Asian equities, including Japan. While global equities, and emerging markets in particular, have sold off in recent months, the trust’s managers consider that this has created an attractive buying opportunity, and they remain very constructive on the outlook for WPC’s holdings. They believe that there is a disconnect between Asian equity prices and corporate earnings, which continue to grow at a healthy pace. The managers are finding what they consider to be exciting investment opportunities in the region, including in Japan and China, where its stock market has suffered disproportionately due to concerns about global trade as a result of the US’s ‘America First’ policy.

Genesis Emerging Markets Fund

Emerging markets specialist, unloved asset class

Initiation | Investment Companies | 30 Oct 2018

Genesis Emerging Markets Fund (GSS) was launched in July 1989, making it one of the first emerging markets funds to be listed in the UK. It seeks to generate long-term capital growth, primarily through investing in emerging and frontier markets equities. With few constraints relative to the benchmark MSCI Emerging Markets index, the investment approach is bottom-up and focused on high-quality companies that trade on reasonable valuations. The manager believes income convergence with developed economies, and a rapidly growing middle-class, creates compelling long-term opportunities for the asset class. In the nearer term, the manager is finding attractive entry points for investments following a c 20% correction of the benchmark index since January 2018. The board has recently increased its efforts to promote GSS, including a resumption of distributions, while a tender offer was successfully completed in August 2018. The fund’s 13.5% discount to cum-income NAV is at the lower end of the peer group range, suggesting there is scope to narrow over time.

BlackRock Greater Europe Investment Trust

Building on the record of outperformance

Review | Investment Companies | 15 Oct 2018

BlackRock Greater Europe Investment Trust (BRGE) has two co-managers: Stefan Gries focuses on developed markets in Europe (the large majority of the portfolio), while Sam Vecht focuses on emerging markets. Gries believes that the investment backdrop remains relatively robust, but stresses the importance of remaining selective. He seeks quality companies that can be held for the long term, where their earnings and cash flow potential is not reflected in their current share prices. Since Gries became co-manager in June 2017, BRGE has outperformed the FTSE World Europe ex-UK index by c 12pp. He continues to find attractive investment opportunities, and comments that the broad-based sell-off in emerging markets means there is potential for a higher emerging Europe allocation in the trust’s portfolio in coming months.

Murray International Trust

Capital growth and above-average dividend yield

Initiation | Investment Companies | 28 Sep 2018

Murray International Trust (MYI) is a global fund offering the prospect of capital appreciation and an above-average dividend yield from a diversified portfolio primarily of equities, as well as bonds. Manager Bruce Stout also aims to protect capital during periods of stock market weakness. He is cautious on the growth outlook for developed economies, based on the debt overhang following the global financial crisis, and continues to favour higher-growth markets in Asia and Latin America. Stout follows a disciplined, long-term approach to investing and, while 2018 has proved to be a tough period for emerging markets, has outperformed the trust’s composite benchmark in all but three years since he assumed the role of lead manager in 2004.

Smith & Nephew

Turning over that new leaf

QuickView | Pharmaceutical & healthcare | 28 Sep 2018

We had the opportunity to join Smith & Nephew’s (S&N) recent institutional investor roadshow and hear about the introspection that has emerged following the appointment of its new CEO. While endorsing its strategy as a portfolio medical device company, two strategic reviews have identified areas which, when the detail is announced at the Q3 and FY18 results, will enable investors to track S&N’s target of returning to market growth rates.

Utilico Emerging Markets Trust

Simplified corporate structure

Review | Investment Companies | 17 Sep 2018

Utilico Emerging Markets Trust (UEM) is a specialist fund focusing on infrastructure and utility investment in emerging market equities. In April 2018, UEM completed its re-domicile from a Bermuda-based investment company to a UK-based investment trust, in order to benefit from the UK’s increasingly supportive regulatory and tax environment. There is no change to UEM’s investment approach or dividend policy. Also, following the final exercise of its subscription shares, UEM now has a simpler capital structure. The board believes that these changes have potential to improve investor perception and, over time, lead to a narrower discount.

APQ Global

Executive interview - APQ Global

Edison TV: | Financials | 16 Jul 2018

APQ is an international emerging markets company, which aims to deliver a stable and growing dividend and capital growth for its shareholders by focusing on income-generating business opportunities, with good value and long-term growth potential. In this interview, CEO Bart Turtelboom gives his views on a range of topics and the potential opportunities for APQ that these represent, including the recent volatility in emerging markets, the Turkish elections, Argentina, China-US relations, and local currency emerging market debt.

Templeton Emerging Markets Investment Trust

Continuation of strategy under new lead manager

Review | Investment Companies | 19 Jun 2018

Templeton Emerging Markets Investment Trust (TEMIT) has been managed by Chetan Sehgal since the beginning of February 2018, when he took over from prior lead manager Carlos Hardenberg. The two managers had worked closely together for a number of years and there will be no change to the investment process. Sehgal will continue to follow Franklin Templeton’s value-based, bottom-up stock selection approach, aiming to generate long-term capital growth. The manager is optimistic on the outlook for emerging market equities, citing above-average earnings growth with below-average valuations versus global equities. TEMIT has recently announced its FY18 results (ending 31 March); its NAV and share price total returns of 12.4% and 13.7% respectively were ahead of the 11.8% total return of the benchmark MSCI Emerging Markets index.

Lazard World Trust Fund

Global opportunities with new 6% dividend policy

Review | Investment Companies | 15 Jun 2018

Lazard World Trust Fund (WTR) is differentiated from the majority of peers by its focus on discounted assets. Its portfolio is a blend of closed-end funds, investment trusts and holding companies that trade at a discount to the value of their assets, and in particular those where the underlying assets are also undervalued. Manager Kun Deng and his Discounted Assets team at Lazard Asset Management are focused on opportunities wherever they arise, with a longstanding bias to Asian and emerging markets. A key part of the WTR strategy is to engage with the underlying holdings to help unlock value through initiatives such as higher dividend policies, and in the spirit of ‘practising what they preach’, the fund has announced a new 6% annual distribution, paid quarterly, which will make it one of the highest-yielding equity-focused investment companies.

BlackRock Greater Europe Investment Trust

Improved performance under new co-manager

Review | Investment Companies | 11 Apr 2018

BlackRock Greater Europe Investment Trust (BRGE) is co-managed by Stefan Gries (appointed on 20 June 2017), who focuses on developed European markets, and Sam Vecht, who focuses on emerging Europe. They aim to generate long-term capital growth from a relatively concentrated portfolio of 35-40 European equities, mostly from developed markets. BRGE’s investment performance has improved following Gries’ appointment, since when the trust has outperformed the FTSE World Europe ex-UK reference index by c 5pp. As well as positive contributions from portfolio companies, both in developed and emerging Europe, BRGE has benefited from not holding some of the larger European companies that have underperformed the broader market.

Utilico Emerging Markets Trust

Proposal to re-domicile in the UK

Review | Investment Companies | 26 Feb 2018

Utilico Emerging Markets (UEM) aims to generate long-term growth in capital and income from a portfolio of 60-90 emerging market equities. Exposure is diversified by geography, with a large concentration in infrastructure, utility and related sectors. Manager Charles Jillings is bullish on the outlook for emerging market equities in 2018 due to a widespread economic improvement, which should result in another year of robust corporate profits. UEM has announced that it is proposing to change its domicile from Bermuda to the UK, which has the potential to improve investor perception and may lead to a narrower discount.

BlackRock Latin American Inv. Trust

Optimistic outlook for Latin American equities

Review | Investment Companies | 15 Feb 2018

BlackRock Latin American Investment Trust (BRLA) is managed by Will Landers, who has 26 years of experience at BlackRock. He is optimistic on the outlook for Latin American equities in 2018, due to relatively attractive company valuations and improving economies in the region, especially in Brazil, where he describes the recovery as “slow and sure”. He says that in 2017, emerging market equity performance was led by Asian companies and there is potential for Latin American companies to catch up if investors have confidence in the improving economic outlook. After a recent improvement in investment performance, BRLA’s NAV total return is now outperforming the benchmark over one, three and five years.