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Standard Life Private Equity Trust

Broader capability expands the opportunity set

Review | Investment trusts | 13 Mar 2019

Standard Life Private Equity Trust (SLPET) has broadened its opportunity set through the recent revision to its investment objective and policy, allowing it to make direct co-investments alongside private equity managers. While offering potential for improved returns, co-investments will only be introduced to the portfolio gradually and SLPET remains focused on maintaining a concentrated exposure to ‘best in class' primary private equity fund opportunities, investing mainly in funds with a European focus. SLPET's NAV total return has outperformed the LPX Europe index NAV return over one, three, five and 10 years. The trust pays dividends quarterly and its 3.7% prospective yield is the second highest among the five dividend-paying funds in its private equity fund of funds peer group.

European Assets Trust

Wider than normal discount has scope to narrow

Review | Investment trusts | 28 Jan 2019

European Assets Trust (EAT) aims to deliver long-term capital growth through a fundamental approach to investing in small and medium-sized companies in Europe (excluding the UK). The manager, Sam Cosh, also concentrates on the preservation of capital, which is reflected in the focus on quality companies and a disciplined approach to valuation. Over the past 10 years, the trust has delivered an annualised c 14% NAV total return. EAT has a high payout policy and its 6% dividend yield is the highest among peers. Dual listed in the Netherlands and the UK, EAT's shareholders have approved the migration of the company to the UK, effective in mid-March 2019. This may result in EAT's inclusion in the FTSE Small Cap and FTSE All-Shares indices, which could increase demand for the shares. Combined with the attractive dividend yield, there is scope for its current wider-than-average discount to NAV to narrow.

Martin Currie Global Portfolio Trust

Established vehicle with new engine for growth

Review | Investment trusts | 07 Jan 2019

Martin Currie Global Portfolio Trust (MNP) has a new lead manager, Zehrid Osmani, formerly a senior portfolio manager and head of European equities research at BlackRock. He describes the trust as ‘the same vehicle with a new engine’, and is very excited about the prospects in his new role. Having introduced new elements to Martin Currie’s investment process, the manager is confident that the trust’s performance can improve, which he hopes will become apparent over the next 24 months. Osmani recognises that the AIC Global sector is a competitive peer group, so he understands that MNP’s performance needs to stand out from the crowd. The trust has a zero discount mechanism and a progressive dividend policy, and currently offers a yield of 1.8%.

The European Investment Trust

Trade dispute weighing on investor sentiment

Review | Investment trusts | 07 Jan 2019

The European Investment Trust (EUT) is managed by Craig Armour at Edinburgh Partners (EP, which is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Franklin Templeton Investments). He aims to generate attractive investment returns from a diversified portfolio of continental European equities, employing a disciplined, valuation-based stock selection strategy. The manager believes investor sentiment has become too negative, on the back of slowing global growth in response to the US/China trade dispute. He says that as a result, many sectors of the European stock market – including industrials and other cyclicals – are looking attractively valued. EUT’s board has a progressive dividend policy and the trust currently offers a yield of 3.5%, which is the highest for a non-income-focused fund within the AIC Europe sector.

The Scottish Investment Trust

Growth and income from a contrarian portfolio

Review | Investment trusts | 20 Dec 2018

The Scottish Investment Trust (SCIN) seeks to provide investors with capital growth and a growing income, by investing in companies around the globe that are unloved by the majority of investors. The core of its portfolio (74% at 31 October 2018) is in ‘ugly ducklings' o stocks that are both out of favour and operationally challenged o as lead manager Alasdair McKinnon says these can generate higher than average returns over the longer term. Because of its contrarian style, SCIN has no benchmark, and generally is not exposed to ‘hot money' investments like US and Chinese internet stocks, instead focusing on areas such as bricks-and-mortar retail (where the manager sees the perceived threat from online competition as overdone), European and Japanese banks, ‘big pharma' (which McKinnon sees as having stronger long-term prospects than they are currently being given credit for) and gold miners. SCIN recently announced its 35th consecutive annual dividend rise and offers one of the highest yields in its peer group, at 3.2% (2.7% excluding special dividends).

Fidelity European Values

Outperforming in an uncertain market

Review | Investment trusts | 26 Oct 2018

Fidelity European Values (FEV) is a relatively defensively positioned trust investing primarily in continental European equities. Recent performance has been strong relative to its FTSE World Europe ex-UK index benchmark and peers, helped by its exposure to defensive technology stocks, less interest rate-sensitive banks, and energy stocks, as well as holding no automotive stocks. The portfolio remains well-balanced, but is now more concentrated in a smaller number of stocks (currently 47), as the manager has taken profits where prospects for sustained dividend growth have weakened, and few new ideas have met his investment criteria. FEV’s consistent longer-term track record and tendency to outperform in periods of market weakness may find appeal in an uncertain market environment.

JPMorgan European Smaller Companies Trust

Termination of coverage

Termination | Investment trusts | 10 Sep 2018

Edison Investment Research is terminating coverage on JPMorgan European Smaller Companies Trust (JESC). Please note you should no longer rely on any previous research or estimates for this company. All forecasts should now be considered redundant.

JPMorgan European Smaller Companies Trust

Building on long-term positive track record

Review | Investment trusts | 16 Jul 2018

JPMorgan European Smaller Companies Trust (JESC) aims to generate long-term capital growth from a portfolio of high-quality, reasonably valued, small-cap European equities. While the European stock market, in keeping with global markets, has been more volatile year to date compared with the abnormally low levels of volatility in 2017, the managers believe that there is potential for further upside. They cite an improving European and global economy, low inflation and a benign interest rate environment, which is supportive for corporate earnings growth. JESC has a very strong investment track record, outperforming the EMIX Smaller Europe ex-UK index over the last one, three, five and 10 years. The trust currently offers a 1.7% dividend yield.

Standard Life Private Equity Trust

Measured addition of domestic US fund exposure

Review | Investment trusts | 13 Jul 2018

Standard Life Private Equity Trust (SLPET) continues to follow a long-term, conviction approach to selecting primarily European private equity buyout funds, managing its exposure through the primary and secondary fund markets. Having broadened its investment policy in 2017, SLPET added exposure to a domestic US manager by acquiring a secondary position in Onex Partners IV in H118, and recently made a new primary commitment to MSouth Equity Partners IV, with the manager undertaking due diligence on a number of other US funds. SLPET has achieved above-average NAV returns among its fund of fund peers over one, three and five years, and has also outperformed UK and European stock market indices over these periods. SLPET has a competitive ongoing charge versus peers and its 3.8% yield ranks at the top of the peer group.

European Assets Trust

Capital growth objective with high yield

Review | Investment trusts | 11 Jul 2018

European Assets Trust (EAT) aims to achieve capital growth through investing in listed small- and medium-sized companies in Europe, excluding the UK. It is also focused on capital preservation, seeking quality companies with strong business models and balance sheets that can sustain long-term earnings growth through economic cycles. The trust has delivered annualised NAV total returns of 11.2% over the past 10 years, while a high payout policy supports a generous yield, currently 6.2%. Leading indicators suggest that Europe’s recovery, which started later than many major economies, remains embedded. Notwithstanding higher equities valuations, the manager continues to find attractive investment ideas and is focused on companies’ structural growth characteristics.

TR European Growth Trust

Finding opportunities in European small-caps

Review | Investment trusts | 02 Jul 2018

TR European Growth Trust (TRG) lead manager Ollie Beckett says he and his team are still finding plenty of investment opportunities, in spite of the global bull market in equities arguably being closer to the end than the beginning. The managers focus on attractively valued smaller companies in continental Europe, where improving returns or management changes have not yet been appreciated by the wider market. After a stellar year of performance in FY17 (NAV and share price total returns of +54.0% and +75.5% respectively), recent returns have been more muted relative to the benchmark and peers, and the trust has moved from a slight premium to NAV to a discount, more in line with long-term averages. Beckett has recently taken profits in holdings where valuations looked stretched, and has increased TRG’s gearing to take advantage of a dip in investor sentiment. The stock list is towards the longer end of the historical range.

The European Investment Trust

Managing risk in a transition period

Review | Investment trusts | 21 Jun 2018

The European Investment Trust (EUT) adopts a strict valuation-based investment approach to construct a relatively concentrated portfolio of stocks that can be held for the long term. Manager Craig Armour says that monetary conditions are slowly normalising following the extreme policies adopted as a result of the global financial crisis. He believes that this process will lead to an increase in stock market volatility, which will in turn lead to a greater investor focus on company valuations. Armour has been selectively adding attractively priced new positions to EUT’s portfolio across a range of industries. However, on balance he has been taking some risk off the table by reducing the fund’s cyclical exposure.