The Bankers Investment Trust (BNKR) is a long-established, globally invested fund with a focus on achieving long-term capital growth greater than that of the FTSE All-Share index, and above-inflation dividend growth. Lead manager Alex Crooke makes use of the substantial resources of Henderson Global Investors, delegating ex-UK stock selection to regional specialists. BNKR has recently achieved its 49th consecutive annual dividend increase, the joint-longest record in the investment company sector. A proposal to merge its stablemate Henderson Global Trust with Henderson International Income Trust could see BNKR – which will be offered as a rollover option to investors who wish to retain a global growth mandate – receive a boost to its assets under management.
BNKR’s portfolio is global with a bias (c 35% but likely to fall to c 30%) towards the UK. Lead manager Alex Crooke works with the board to decide the level of gearing and the geographical allocation and is also responsible for the UK portfolio; ex-UK stock selection is undertaken on a bottom-up basis by regional specialists from Henderson’s well resourced team. The overall style is biased towards value, with all the managers aiming to buy stocks at less than their intrinsic worth. Sustainable dividend growth is also a key area of focus when selecting stocks.
Global stock markets have experienced a period of volatility and heightened investor risk aversion in recent months, fuelled by concerns over the effect of continued low commodity prices, divergent central bank policy and slowing growth in China, previously the engine of the world economy. However, the recent correction may provide investors with the opportunity to access attractive investments at lower valuations and while dividends in some sectors are under pressure, income growth can still be found in many markets.
At 11 March 2016 BNKR’s shares traded at a 6.3% discount to cum-income net asset value, narrower than the three-year widest point of 8.9% reached in midFebruary but above the three-year average of 1.8%. The widening has largely occurred since the start of the year as investor risk aversion has risen. Having issued shares in order to manage a premium over the past two-and-a-half years, the board has recently undertaken four share buybacks to help manage the discount.