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Research Tree provides access to ongoing research coverage, media content and regulatory news on Baring Emerging Europe. We currently have 16 research reports from 1 professional analysts.
It is something of a truism to say that emerging markets are not a homogenous blob, but a range of highly differentiated economies and stock markets. Yet as investors, we often categorise them as one and the same, especially from an asset allocation and risk management perspective.
Companies: FCSS BRFI ANII BEE BRLA
Baring Emerging Europe (BEE) aims to generate long-term total returns from a disciplined bottom-up approach, selecting the most attractive companies in the currently attractively valued emerging Europe region. The benchmark, the MSCI EM Europe 10/40 Index, is dominated by Russia (59%), and BEE has outperformed thanks to strong returns in that country as it recovers from the recession in 2014 and 2015 (discussed further in the Performance section). Returns have been strong on a risk adjusted basis too thanks to the skill of the manager, and BEE has added the most alpha of any emerging markets trust over five years. Russia has been benefiting from a secular change in dividend culture in the region. As well as benefiting total returns, this has been particularly welcome for BEE given the shift of dividend policy in 2014 that led to greater emphasis on shareholder payouts and gave the board the ability to pay out capital. The yield is currently 4.1%. BEE trades on a discount of 9%, below its 11% one-year average. There is an annual tender offer triggered if performance or discount don’t match up to certain targets, which should help to control the discount.
Companies: Baring Emerging Europe
“Is life always this hard, or just when you’re a kid?” “Always like this” (Leon: The Professional) In the post-financial crisis world, value investors have found themselves facing a period of structural underperformance relative to growth investors which has been unusual relative to history. In fact, this is the longest period of underperformance since at least the 1920s. This raises the question; what, if anything, could cause this to change?
Companies: GVP ASL BEE MIGO TMPL
In January we introduced a new quantitative rating system for investment trusts. Our ratings look at NAV total return performance. They are, we believe, the first quantitative rating for closed-ended funds to do so and thereby capture the performance of the management team rather than the noisier share price movements. Our ratings aim to identify the top performers for capital growth and for income. We have designed the quants to identify those trusts which have added the greatest alpha to their benchmarks and which have displayed an attractive balance between performance in rising and falling markets. For the income ratings, we have set out to identify those trusts which have managed to generate a high yield while growing their dividends and without sacrificing capital growth. We have scored all AIC trusts on our selected metrics and awarded the top twenty in each category our growth or income ratings. We believe our ratings highlight those trusts which have displayed the most highly attractive characteristics for investors in the recent past. Pleasingly, since we launched the list the trusts have done well on average, outperforming their benchmarks significantly – particularly the capital growth trusts We will rebalance the ratings at the end of 2019, but here we give an update on the performance of the trusts we have rated and the key factors affecting performance.
Companies: FGT SLS IPU BEE JCH
Baring Emerging Europe (BEE) aims to provide capital growth and a high dividend yield from a portfolio of stocks in developing Europe, mainly Russia, Poland and Turkey. The manager, Matthias Siller, focuses strongly on bottom-up stock selection to generate returns, and has produced impressive amounts of alpha over the past five years, higher than all but one of the global emerging markets trusts. While total return performance has been strong, the income dimension is a more recent feature. Since the start of 2017 the trust has paid semi-annual distributions, been able to pay dividends from revenues or capital and been committed to paying an uncovered dividend where necessary. The dividend yield is therefore an impressive 4.5%, higher than all but one global equity income trust and all but one global emerging markets trust. BEE therefore offers a diversifying source of income from a region which, being an emerging market, offers strong long-term growth potential too. Emerging Europe, as a region, is trading on depressed valuations, with the forward P/E on the index just 6.7x compared to 11.6x for the mainstream Emerging Markets index, 13x for developed Europe and 15x for Brexit-hit UK. As such, it represents an interesting “Value” opportunity for investors. BEE is trading on a discount of 7.3%. Although the discount has narrowed after a strong start to 2019, we understand that the trust will need to average a 9% discount or under from the end of April to the end of September to avoid a tender offer early next year. We note that after the announced winding up of BlackRock Emerging Europe, BEE is the only specialist investment trust focused on this region.
Companies: Baring Emerging Europe
In our February article 'Sweet Treats', we launched our list of discount opportunities - trusts we felt had the potential to see their discounts close significantly and, in turn, supercharge investors' returns. Our list has had a good beginning to its life, with the majority seeing their discounts close slightly in the almost three months since, aided by a good period for the markets. The investment trust universe has seen its average price rise by 3.2% since 13 February, as the below graph shows. We can trace the rally in the market to the meeting of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate setting body, the FOMC, on the 20 March. Shortly after that meeting, global equity markets began their rise, as investors lowered their expectations for future interest rates.
Companies: ASCI HOT ASCI HOT RMMC OCI MHN TFG BEE
One of the attractions of investment trusts is the potential to pick up discounted bargains, which can supercharge NAV returns if correctly anticipated. As we have remarked before, closed-ended funds have historically delivered superior NAV returns. But buying shares on a substantial discount can significantly enhance those NAV returns should the discount narrow on a sustained basis. The reasons for investment companies long run NAV outperformance of equivalent open-ended funds, lies with their structural advantages, as we discussed in detail last year. Firstly, they have the ability to make the best use of less liquid assets and managers can manage those assets without having to worry about inflows and outflows. Secondly, they can employ gearing, which should be accretive to returns over the long run even if timing isn’t attempted, assuming equity markets continue to rise over the course of each cycle. While we tend to focus on the trusts with long-term potential, here we are considering those trusts currently sitting on discounts that have caught our eye. These trusts are trading on unusually wide discounts (at least 10% in absolute terms), but most importantly, have the potential to produce attractive NAV returns (in relative or absolute terms) as well.
Companies: BEE AAS RMMC MHN OCI TFG
As the end of the financial year approaches, we enter ‘ISA season’. In the first of several articles on generating income for an ISA investment, we look at the advantages of investing in equity income trusts. We explain why investment trusts can be useful for long-term, income-hungry investors, and the myriad benefits that the closed ended structure offers. We also identify trusts that best exploit the tools that investment trusts have to offer to achieve their income objectives, and illustrate how they may provide investors with a more dependable income stream for many years into the future.
Companies: MAJE PLI ASCI CTY BEE SAIN STS IPU IVI IBT
Today, we introduce our investment trust ratings. According to the quantitative screens we have selected in an attempt to highlight the best performers in the closed-ended universe, the trusts discussed here have been the best in their classes over the last five years. We have selected trusts using two different sets of criteria, aiming to identify the top performers for capital growth and for achieving a high and growing income. There are many rating systems for open-ended funds, but no quantitative-based system for investment trusts that is available to the average investor. While we cannot identify trusts which will perform well in the future – past outperformance is no guide to future out-performance – we hope these ratings will highlight the outstanding performers in the closed-ended universe and those managers who have best used the advantages of investment trusts to generate alpha. We are trying to reward consistent and long-term outperformance, and so we have decided to look over a five-year period. All data is as of the end of December 2018, sourced from Morningstar and JPMorgan Cazenove. We have looked at NAV total return performance and discount value has not been considered: the aim is to identify those trusts which have performed the best rather than highlight bargains.
Companies: IPU FAS ATR JEO FEV FGT THRG SEC PAC BRSC IAT HNE MIGO TRY JMG DIVI SLS BGS SDP JETI SOI BCI MRC TIGT EDIN JAI BEE SDV BRIG AAIF HFEL SCF SIGT BRFI IVPG CTY HINT JCH NAIT
It was only last year that Europe was considered one of the hottest sectors, and we produced research (‘En Garde!’) highlighting the sheer pace at which the discounts were narrowing, and how the sector was witnessing its highest inflows since 2015. Over a one-year period, to the end of July 2017, the average trust in the sector had delivered NAV total returns of 26% which – supported by that closing discount – translated to share price total returns of 39%. To put that in context, the average fund in the sector outperformed the average fund in any and all of the Investment Association’s OEIC sectors over the same period. However, this has all but completely been forgotten and, rightly or wrongly, Europe is now one of the most out of favour geographical sectors in the world. We believe it is likely to be ‘wrongly’, and having met with multiple European fund managers, we feel there may be a discrepancy between the opportunities in Europe, and the sentiment of investors. We look at a range of investment trusts and examine the case for Europe.
Companies: FEV BEE JEO
Baring Emerging Europe offers capital growth and a dividend yield from a portfolio of stocks in developing Europe, mainly Russia, Poland and Turkey. The manager, Matthias Siller, aims to outperform his benchmark through stock selection, and has achieved this over the medium term as shown by strong alpha figures over a five-year period. The dividend has been given greater emphasis since the start of 2017, with a substantial increase to the payout last year and a 46% increase in the interim dividend this year. The trust can pay income from capital and is currently yielding 4.6%. Following a poor period for the region and emerging markets the trust is on a significant discount, although the board has the intention and ammunition to defend a 12% limit over the medium term. Buybacks and a tender offer arrangement should help reduce the downside risk to the discount. After the announced winding up of BlackRock Emerging Europe, the trust will be the only specialist option in this space.
Companies: Baring Emerging Europe
Emerging markets remain a highly attractive place to invest for the longer term, despite the difficult period for the region this year. We do not believe that the current travails amount to a broad-based crisis in the region. In fact, many of the recent headlines surrounding emerging markets are irrelevant to long-term investor as they are focused on small and insignificant markets. We believe the index has done poorly mainly thanks to specific issues with individual countries and regions rather thanks to global dynamics besetting the region, with the important exception of the confrontation between Trump and the Chinese on trade. In our view, investors in emerging markets need to hold their nerve rather than trying to wait and time the bottom before reinvesting.
Companies: JAI DGN SDP EMF BEE
Income has for a long time been top priority for British investors, stripped of the traditional source of income that a savings account once represented by a decade of negligible interest rates. But with bonds in a parlous state and the wheels finally coming off the buy-to-let bubble, the range of options available is increasingly narrow. Equities have for some time now been the beneficiary of this search for yield and equity income funds have done very well on the back of this, attracting huge inflows. However, as we have highlighted in the past, many of them are investing in just a small range of companies and those companies are themselves increasingly stretching for yield - putting this refuge for the income seeker on somewhat thin ice. With all this behind us, and mounting uncertainty about the current rally in front of us, where then is a sensible place to find it?
Companies: JCH IVI EDIN BRIG IVPU SOI BEE
Fresh news from the Quirinal Palace on Saturday – with the Italian president effectively vetoing the government put forward by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the far-right League – has put Italy, and the future cohesion of the Eurozone, in the spotlight once again. Stocks and bonds were already under pressure before the announcement that the coalition’s preferred candidate for finance minister – Paulo Savona – had been rejected by the president, who put forward instead Carlo Cottarelli, a former IMF official, who some argue plays into populists’ hands as another example of the Italian establishment’s thrall to Brussels. The League and the Five Star Movement have previously called for Italy’s withdrawal from the Euro and both support policies which would ride roughshod over eurozone rules on budget deficits. The danger is that, by appearing to pander to Brussels, the president’s action on Saturday may backfire – fomenting even greater populist feeling among a population already deeply resentful of EU ‘meddling’. While this may seem like a return to form for the troubled Union after an uncharacteristically smooth patch, we think a sanguine approach makes sense. Italian politics works on compromise and backtracking, and the coalition documents suggest an exit from the euro is not on the cards. In fact, with the economic environment in Europe generally positive, any volatility in Europe generated by the headlines surrounding Italy could throw up some interesting opportunities. Viewed with a cooler head, little has changed in Europe since the weekend and the environment of low inflation and cheap money looks set to remain dominant. Unprecedentedly loose monetary policy from the ECB remains firmly in place, and the debate continues over whether the eurozone economy will be strong enough to allow policymakers to end the QE programme in September. President of the ECB, Mario Draghi, has recently announced that the interest rates on refinancing and on lending would remain unchanged at 0 per cent and 0.25 per cent respectively for the foreseeable future, providing technical support for European stock markets.
Companies: HNE JESC BRGE BEE JEO
We have for some time argued that traditional equity income funds are too heavily dependent on a narrow range of stocks, and that the stocks themselves are perhaps looking overstretched in terms of the dividends they pay compared to their underlying earnings. In November last year we published research showing that 25.1% of the capital in the AIC UK Equity Income sector is invested in just ten stocks, and across those companies the average dividend cover is 1.17x. We found that open-ended funds are even more heavily concentrated, with just under 30% of assets invested in ten stocks, among which the average dividend cover is just 1.04%. The mood amongst investors seems to be changing as awareness of this concentration grows, not least because of articles like this one in the Times warning of a ‘squeeze’ ahead for investors and, where once UK Equity Income was regularly the top selling Investment Association sector, outflows have been building steadily for some months. In fact the IA UK Equity Income sector saw bigger retail outflows in January this year than any other bar the Specialist sector. Even after recent outflows, however, the sector remains one of the largest overall with assets of more than £62bn under management – accounting for roughly ten percent of all assets invested in open-ended funds. Among investment trusts, assets amounting to £10bn are held in UK Equity Income trusts. Income still commands a strong pull, then, and within the Investment Trust sector, the practise of boosting income by paying out a proportion of capital profits has become increasingly common as a means to attract new investors. The appeal of this practice from a fund manager’s point of view is obvious. Many investors clamour for income, so introducing a yield can encourage greater demand for shares. International Biotechnology Trust (IBT), which we cover in detail here, announced plans in September 2016 to convert some of the capital it generates into income, aiming for a yield of 4%. As the chart below shows, the discount has come in sharply since it did so, moving to a premium earlier this year having previously rarely traded inside a double figure discount for a large proportion of its lifetime. Invesco Perpetual UK Smaller Companies (IPU) saw a similar re-rating when the board announced plans to pay a significantly enhanced dividend partly funded by the capital account in September 2016. Like IBT, the trust, which yields 3.5%, has seen its discount tighten up sharply, moving in from a consistently wide double-digit discount to trade in single figures since the enhanced dividend was introduced. Looking at these share price movements, we thought it might be interesting to examine the broader investment trust sector and see whether a correlation exists between discount and yield.
Companies: IVPU IBT MVI MUT DIG EDIN PLI BEE BRWM IVI SCF AAIF PLI
Research Tree provides access to ongoing research coverage, media content and regulatory news on Baring Emerging Europe. We currently have 16 research reports from 1 professional analysts.
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We believe that NSF’s response to the current pandemic is in the interests of all its stakeholders. The operational shift towards remote working helps protect its staff whilst enabling its clients to continue to access the services they need. Similarly, its decision to reduce lending and focus on its existing clients and those most in need, is the prudent thing to do. These actions, combined with the high risk-adjusted margins on its existing loan book should enable the group to generate positive cash flow, even allowing for an increase in impairment during the current period of economic uncertainty. This should leave the group in a stronger position to serve its clients and win share when the current government restrictions are lifted. As a result, of this medium-term outlook we reiterate our BUY rating.
Companies: Non-Standard Finance
Belvoir’s FY 2019 results were strong, with adj. EPS up 13% (13.6p vs our forecast 13.0p) and strong cash generation. COVID-19 will affect property sales in FY 2020 but lettings (61% of 2019 gross profit) will be more resilient, helped by the Government’s measures to support employment and incomes. Management has reacted quickly, reducing costs and putting plans in place to support franchisees. We now forecast a ‘lost year’ in FY 2020, assuming five months of no sales activity, a significant reduction in financial services and a reduction in lettings fees, partly offset by a £1.5m cost reduction. The capital light franchise model, inherent high levels of cash generation and no final dividend for 2019 mean we forecast gross cash of £2.0m at December 2020, down from £3.6m. Belvoir is in good financial shape to weather the storm and support its franchisees before returning to normal activity. The success of the strategy was again evidenced by a strong start to 2020 prior to COVID-19.
Companies: Belvoir Lettings
The scaling of Duke's royalty portfolio was progressing as expected up to March 2020, with record cash receipts that month. Due to Covid-19 and the UK's economic shutdown, macro conditions have worsened and become highly uncertain. This is likely to see some royalty partners' future cash royalties decline, which in turn, will negatively impact FV's in the FY20E results. Duke's high margin and cash generative nature ensures it is well placed to trade through these challenges. Given the degree of uncertainty in outlook, we remove forecasts and put our recommendation Under Review and await further clarity on the portfolio.
Companies: Duke Royalty
1pm has provided a trading update outlining its response to the current Covid-19 outbreak. Operations continue as usual (remotely) and the group continues to write new business, however, it has received multiple requests for repayment deferrals. The group is offering this flexibility where merited to assist credit worthy UK SMEs and has the balance sheet to absorb these lower cash collections. 1pm's own funders remain supportive to the business. Given the uncertainty over the duration of the outbreak and the impact the UK's shutdown is having on 1pm's trading, we withdraw forecasts and put our recommendation under review.
Alpha has released an update today, which highlights the impacts of the recent global lockdown and extreme FX volatility on the trading and working capital of their clients. We have reduced this year’s revenue forecast by 14% and EPS by 24%. We show the Company has sufficient capital to hit these revised forecasts and importantly has a business model, capital structure, technology platform and client proposition to continue to take share and return to high-growth when economies normalise.
Companies: Alpha Fx Group
The Coronavirus pandemic is a human tragedy of vast proportions – as well as the terrible human toll, COVID-19 has led to economies across the globe going into physical lockdown and financial freefall. Entire populations are adapting to the “stay at home” edict, to safeguard the vulnerable – and some of these changes will lead to long-lasting or perhaps permanent changes in the way we live or work. This note describes some of our client companies whose business models are well adapted to these changes, or who might see a change in long-term structural demand.
Companies: AMO BGO FDM GAMA KAPE LOOP TERN ZOO
Premier Miton has been the worst performing asset manager YTD, despite evidence that the benefits of its merger are coming through, and its funds are outperforming. Our mark-to-market suggests that if markets remain at current levels until financial year-end in Sep’20, the shares would only be trading on 7.1x FY21 P/E, an extreme valuation for a company with significant self-help opportunities, and an extremely strong balance sheet. Our analysis also suggests PMI will enjoy increasing net cash balances over two years, reaching c.£37m in FY20 or 34% of the current market cap. As a result, we see the current share price as an extremely attractive entry point. Our updated TP of 152p is driven by a DCF assuming flat AUM for 3 years and implies 125% upside.
Companies: Premier Miton Group
Today's news & views, plus announcements from AAL, SSE, CCH, NXT, FLTR, MGGT, PHP, RMG, BBY, RDW, DOM,WJG, GATC,
Companies: Primary Health Properties
Mercia’s business update highlighted the breadth of its portfolio (c 400 companies) and the strength of its cash position – £30.4m of unrestricted balance sheet cash and £190m of investment capital in its managed funds, giving c £220m of uninvested cash. However, with lower revenues now expected in FY21, Mercia also recognises that the valuations of both the NVM VCT portfolios, whose fund management contracts were acquired in December (22% fall in average NAV), and its own portfolio have been affected by market conditions. With group results not due until July, based on a read-across from the 22% fall in the NVM portfolios, we calculate a hard NAV for Mercia of 25.0p. Added to our assumption of the value of the third-party fee-earning funds business (2–3% of a reduced FUM), this would imply an indicative value for Mercia of 30.6–33.4p. Mercia trades at a c 50% discount to our indicative value today.
Companies: Mercia Technologies
Appreciate saw trading in line with expectations until the end of February, but the closure of fulfilment locations in response to COVID-19 has seen a substantial drop in billings in the past week. Management is withdrawing its guidance, but will provide an update in the second half of April. Meanwhile, the interim dividend (£2m) will not be paid and the FY dividend will be reviewed in June (c. £4m). We see the net cash balance sheet as strong enough to weather the storm. The company’s digital first strategy will accelerate and help to mitigate the pressure on physical vouchers. We will review our estimates in April, but we think that a CY20E EV/EBIT of 3.8x on existing numbers more than reflects the downside risks.
Companies: Appreciate Group
Covid-19's future impact is likely to overshadow FY19A results which delivered YoY growth, despite imposition of the tenant fee ban and the backdrop of a subdued lettings/sales market. With franchisee premises and the UK housing market now closed, FY20E trading will be materially affected and growth strategies (financial services, assisted acquisitions) are now on hold. The group will fall back on its recurring lettings revenue, streamlined cost base and debt-free balance sheet to seek profitable trading and positioning for a market rebound in FY21E. Given uncertainty as to Covid-19's duration and severity, we put our recommendation Under Review and withdraw forecasts awaiting further clarity.
Companies: Property Franchise Group
VinaCapital Vietnam Opportunity Fund - Strong pipeline of private equity investmentsSupermarket Income REIT - Rent reviews result in 1.3% uplift to annualised rental incomeCOVID-19 Updates - Assessing the impactInsider Buying - Management seeing buying opportunities
Companies: VINACAPITAL VIETNAM OPPORTUN
Best idea of the week - CLS and the Real Estate Sector
Companies: AVO AGY ARBB ARIX BUR CMH CLIG DNL GDR HAYD PCA PIN PHP RE/ RECI RMDL STX SHED VTA
FY Results – Significant strategic progress and well positioned for 2020 Digitalbox is an AIM-quoted digital publishing company, currently owning two distinct digital media assets and with a scalable platform to grow through acquisitions. This morning's FY2019 results evidence the substantial progress the company made in 2019 at both a financial and operating level and with a very robust balance sheet to capitalise on future M&A opportunities. The company reported revenue of £2.24m and a reported adjusted EBITDA of £0.53m, which after adjusting for prepaid costs from 2018 with respect to Facebook marketing cost, yields an EBITDA of £0.63m. Whilst key operating KPI's for 2019 were very strong y-o-y, and Q1:2020 is said to have traded ‘ahead of management expectations', increased traffic to their assets will likely be offset by increased pressure in advertising spend in 2020. As such, we prudently reduce our FY2020E and FY2021E adjusted PBT estimates by 35% and 22% to £0.59m and £0.74m respectively. Revenue and profitability is H2 weighted, and thus it is possible that the company might experience positive momentum in advertising spend, but it's too early to call. Assuming a 10x FY2020E EV/EBITDA multiple, we see fair value at 9.3p.