Canadian General Investments (CGI) is managed by Greg Eckel at Morgan Meighen & Associates. He stresses that despite the tough macro backdrop as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, he is sticking to the company’s philosophy and fundamental investment process, which has generated a very long-term record of outperformance versus the Canadian market. The manager says: ‘We will not veer off into unknown, dangerous territories and away from our core, proven strengths. It is easy to fall victim to near-term pressures, but doing so has proven to handicap and impair returns otherwise available. We rely on our experience and learnings of the past in an effort to avoid such pitfalls, and make every effort to provide our shareholders with the results to which they have become accustomed.’
Companies: Canadian General Investments
Canadian General Investments (LSE:CGI and TSE:CGI) was launched in 1930, it is North America’s second-oldest closed-end fund. Since 1956, it has been managed by Morgan Meighen & Associates. Portfolio manager Greg Eckel invests with a medium- to long-term outlook in a broad selection of primarily Canadian equities, aiming to outperform the total return of the benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index. CGI has a favourable tax status, but to maintain this, the company is unable to repurchase its shares to help manage the share price discount to net asset value. CGI has followed a levered strategy since 1998 and more than 50% of its shares are held by related parties.
In this webcast, Morgan Meighen’s executive vice president and chief operating officer Jonathan Morgan discusses the outcome of the recent general election, and the free trade agreement. He then focuses on the health of the Canadian economy, including the housing sector. Morgan also highlights CGI’s gearing, distribution policy, portfolio activity and investment performance.
Canadian General Investments (CGI) is a well-established company with a long-term track record of outperformance. Manager Greg Eckel is ‘sticking to his knitting’, seeking companies with strong fundamentals and well-respected management teams, that are trading on reasonable valuations and can be held for the long term. While there are economic headwinds, including the ongoing US-China trade dispute, the manager says that ‘Canada remains an island of stability’, and suggests investors may benefit from Canadian exposure as part of a global portfolio. Eckel is continuing to find what he considers to be interesting investment opportunities in a variety of sectors, in both Canada and the US.
At Hardman and Co, we try to answer the questions of why to invest in a company and what the risks are in doing so. For many investors, simply having a deep discount to NAV is a good enough answer to the first question. However, investors need to appreciate the risks and, in particular, the reasons why the shares are at a discount. Having understood those risks, investors need to be convinced that there is a catalyst for change on the part of the manager and how long (if at all) it will take for market sentiment to reflect this in a lower discount. In this report, we examine the companies with the largest discounts and review those very issues.
Companies: ADAM BC12 BGHL CGI HAN JZCP LMS MPO MVI MHN NSI NAS OCI PSHD RSE SIHL TFG TPOU UTL VIN ELTA ELX
Canadian General Investments’ (CGI) manager Greg Eckel is optimistic on the outlook for Canadian equities in 2019, particularly if there is resolution to the US-China trade dispute, along with clarity about the revised North American trade agreement. The manager says that while there are macro issues to consider, the Canadian equity market looks reasonably valued and he is encouraged by the outlook for corporate earnings, judging by the US Q119 results so far. Eckel is continuing to ‘stay true to CGI’s heritage’, following a bottom-up, low portfolio turnover approach, and is finding interesting new investment opportunities. The company has a very strong track record; its NAV has outperformed the S&P/TSX Composite index over the last one, three, five and 10 years. CGI’s total dividend is on track for its first growth in seven years, and offers a prospective yield of 3.1%.
Canadian General Investments (CGI) aims to generate an attractive total return from a portfolio of primarily Canadian equities. Manager Greg Eckel describes the fund as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for investment in Canada. He says that the country is currently out of favour with investors, and equity valuations are reasonable, which may provide an attractive opportunity. While he invests for the long term, Eckel actively manages CGI’s portfolio, seeking to buy companies with attractive fundamentals and long-term growth potential, while adding to or trimming existing positions to maximise returns. This strategy has proved effective, with CGI outperforming its S&P/TSX Composite index benchmark over one, three, five and 10 years. It also offers an attractive dividend yield of 3.5%.
Canadian General Investments (CGI) is a Canadian investment corporation, providing investors with a broad exposure to primarily Canadian, but also selected US, equities. Manager Greg Eckel suggests the company may be considered a ‘one-stop shop’ for investment in Canada. CGI has a positive investment track record; it has outperformed its benchmark S&P/TSX Composite index over one, three, five and 10 years, and over much longer time periods. More recent performance has benefited from a repositioning of the portfolio at the beginning of 2016, which included increasing the materials exposure. Total annual distributions have remained stable for the last six years, but the manager is hopeful that annual dividends can increase in the future. CGI has a dividend yield of 3.4% (including a 4c special dividend).
The Canadian economy expanded at a blistering pace (c.4%) in the first half of 2017. Having raised rates twice to 1%, the Bank of Canada (BoC) has paused to let the markets and the economy absorb these rises. In 2017, the equity market performance has been relatively muted following a strong 2016, partially because of uncertainty about NAFTA. However, from a bottom-up perspective, the portfolio manager of Canadian General Investments (CGI), Greg Eckel, continues to find attractive opportunities and CGI has outperformed the benchmark S&P/TSX Composite over one, three and five years. We believe the dividend yield is another key reason to buy CGI for a combination of income and strong long-term returns.
Canadian General Investments (CGI) enjoys favourable tax status as a Canadian investment corporation. Its portfolio of primarily Canadian equities is broadly diversified, suggesting that the company can be considered as a ‘one-stop shop’ for investment in Canada, where there are investment opportunities available across a range of sectors. As a result of positive fundamental stock selection, CGI’s NAV total return has outperformed the benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index over one, three and five years. The board has been shifting emphasis towards more regular interim rather than year-end special dividends; CGI’s current dividend yield is 3.1%.
Canadian General Investments (CGI) is registered as a Canadian investment corporation, which confers favourable tax status; it is listed on both the Toronto and London stock exchanges. Given its broad exposure to primarily Canadian equities, the fund may be considered as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for investment in Canada. CGI’s NAV total return has outperformed the S&P/TSX Composite index benchmark over one and five years. The manager’s high ownership of CGI ensures that all shareholders’ interests are aligned; however, this may be a factor in the size of the discount. Emphasis is moving more towards regular, quarterly rather than year-end special dividends; CGI’s current dividend yield is 3.6%.
Canadian equity markets have rallied significantly this year as commodity markets have stabilised. While we are concerned about the level of debt carried by the Canadian household we believe the equity market still remains attractive, on a relative basis. Investors looking for diversified exposure to the Canadian equity market should buy Canadian General Investments (CGI LN). The dual listed fund is trading at a discount of c.32% with an expected dividend yield of c.4% and an excellent long-term performance record.
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Ramsdens has reported a strong set of trading results in the last twelve months to March 2020. COVID lockdown has led to store closures, which will lead to weaker trading over the following months. However, Ramsdens has a very solid balance sheet, is diversified and is well positioned to re-open stores and continue its growth. We use an 8x multiple on last 12 months to March 2020 earnings as a reflection of a normalised earnings base which reduces our target price to 162p from 180p. At this target price Ramsdens would trade on a CY20 P/B of 1.5x. This target price offers 15% upside and we re-iterate BUY.
ULR’s finals were in line with on EPRA NAV and earnings a little better than expected. Valuations remain stable and full rent collection has been achieved for the current quarter. We see fundamental quality and resilience in the (now expanded) portfolio – ULR has already invested nearly £100m in the first two months of the new year following the £136m equity raise. We make no material changes to forecasts. Current valuation points to an 7%+ annualised return, with upside remaining from deployment of funding headroom, active management and potential for valuations to improve.
Companies: Urban Logistics REIT
A number of REITs have the ability to thrive in current market conditions and thereafter. Not only do they hold assets that will remain in strong demand, but they have focus and transparency. The leases and underlying rents are structured in a manner to provide long visibility, growth and security. Hardman & Co defined an investment universe of REITs that we considered provided security and “safer harbours”. We introduced this universe with our report published in March 2019: “Secure income” REITs – Safe Harbour Available. Here, we take forward the investment case and story. We point to six REITs, in particular, where we believe the risk/reward is the most attractive.
Companies: AGR CSH ESP DIGS IHR LXI PHP RESI SIR SUPR THRL SOHO BBOX SHED WHR
Aside from its FY 19 earnings presentation, British Land has adopted a more cautious anticipation about Offices in the City of London. We share this pessimism and have been surprised by the recent share’s bump. The latter is the opportunity to turn negative, again, and update our divestment case.
Companies: British Land Company
The Merchants Trust (MRCH) is managed by Simon Gergel at Allianz Global Investors (AllianzGI). Aiming to continue to provide a high and growing level of income, he is adjusting the trust's portfolio in the wake of dividend cuts sparked by the negative economic effects of COVID-19. If there is an income shortfall in this financial year, MRCH is well positioned to maintain its dividend, with revenue reserves of more than 1x the last annual payment. It has not been an easy period for value managers over the last decade as growth stocks have led the charge; however, Gergel has outperformed the UK market over this period in both NAV and share price terms. The board reduced MRCH's gearing in late January 2020, which was opportune timing ahead of the recent significant stock market weakness.
Companies: Merchants Trust
The covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the share price of property companies, with 31% wiped off the value of their total market capitalisation during the first quarter of 2020.
Companies: AEWU CREI CSH BOOT INL HLCL THRL SUPR RESI RGL DIGS GR1T SOHO PHP BOXE ASLI UTG AGR UAI BLND UANC CAL SHED CWD WHR EPIC WKP GRI YEW HMSO PCA INTU NRR
In the past month the group has made significant progress in pivoting its business away from its traditional face-to-face model. Although lending levels remain appropriately subdued, it has achieved an impressive collections performance, with its largest business running at about 90% of pre-lockdown levels. This, combined with the group’s high risk-adjusted margins has enabled it to generate £3m of FCF in the first three weeks of April, taking its net cash position to £38.7m as of 21 April. This strong financial position, combined with the group’s innovative approach to product development puts it in an extremely strong position to serve its clients and win share when the current government restrictions are eventually lifted. Reflecting this positive outlook we reiterate our BUY rating.
Companies: Non-Standard Finance
In this note, we analyze the indebtedness of 35 international E&Ps publicly listed in the UK, Canada, Norway, Sweden and the USA. For each company, we look at (1) cash position, (2) level and nature of debt (including covenants), (3) debt service and principal repayment framework and (4) Brent price required from April to YE20 to meet all the obligations and keep cash positions intact. We also estimate YE20 cash if Brent were to average US$20/bbl from April to YE20. While the oil demand and oil price collapse are of unprecedented historical proportions and the opportunities to cut costs much more limited than in 2014, most companies (with a few exceptions) entered the crisis in much better position than six years ago, with stronger balance sheets and often already extended debt maturities. In addition, this time around, many E&Ps have already been deleveraging for 1-2 years and are not caught in the middle of large developments that cannot be halted. The previous crisis also showed that debt providers could relax debt covenants for a certain period as long as interest and principal repayment obligations were met. This implies that as long as operations are not interrupted and counterparties keep paying their bills (Kurdistan), the storm can be weathered by most for a few quarters.
With (1) Brent price of about US$50/bbl in 1Q20, (2) reduced capex programmes, (3) material hedging programmes covering a large proportion of FY20 production at higher prices and (4) limited principal repayments in 2020, we find that most companies can meet all their costs and obligations in 2020 at Brent prices below US$40/bbl and often below US$35/bbl) from April until YE20 and keep their cash intact, allowing them to remain solvent at much lower prices for some time. In particular, Maha Energy and SDX Energy are cash neutral at about US$20/bbl. When factoring the divestment of Uganda, Tullow needs only US$9/bbl to maintain its YE20 cash equal to YE19. Canacol Energy, Diversified Gas and Oil, Independent Oil & Gas, Orca Exploration, Serica Energy and Wentworth Resources are gas stories not really exposed to oil prices and Africa Oil has hedged 95% of its FY20 production at over US$65/bbl.
Companies: AKERBP AOI CNE CNE DGOC EGY ENOG ENQ GENL GKP GPRK GTE HUR IOG JSE KOS LUPE MAHAA OKEA ORC.B PEN PHAR PMO PTAL PXT RRE SDX SEPL TETY TGL TLW TXP WRL
The positive market movements (£19.5bn) offset the net outflows of £1.3bn. The adjusted operating profit before tax reached £1,149m, down 21.9% yoy. The insurer benefited less from longevity assumption changes (£126m vs. £441m in 2018) in the Heritage business and the lower Asset Management fees margin (38bp vs. 40 bp in 2018) in the Savings and Asset Management one. The current context has led to a decrease in the Solvency II ratio by 10%, but the capital position remains resilient at 166%.
Today's news & views, plus announcements from VOD, POLY, SMDS, BLND, BYG, WEIR, DC, SNR, SHI, INTU, IHR, CNC, ARE, INCE
Companies: INTU SHI INCE
U+I’s post-close trading update confirms c. £16m of development and trading gains for FY20, which includes Harwell. This is broadly in line with our revised expectations. Proactive steps are being taken to preserve liquidity in the short-term, including suspending the final dividend and stopping all non-essential spend. Positively, benefits of the cost saving programme will now be realised 12 months early. The balance sheet is strong, with ample liquidity; covenant levels are a long way off. Management’s time is being spent repositioning teams to be ready when restrictions are lifted, when there will be a renewed focus on the short-to-medium term value gain opportunities, of which there are plenty. The shares currently trade at 59% spot discount to our updated NAV forecasts, vs the UK sector at a 9% discount. We leave our recently lowered 180p target price unchanged and continue to see upside from here.
Companies: U&I Group
Recent news: On 21 April CLIG’s 3Q trading update to 31 March 2020, revealed:
27% fall in Funds Under Management (“FUM”) from US$6.0bn to US$4.4bn
- with weaker Sterling, FUM in £ fell 20% from £4.5bn to £3.6bn.
In 3Q, while Diversification CEF strategies (Opportunistic Value and Developed funds) had net inflows of US$25m, the Group’s Emerging Market Funds had net outflows US$68m
The Group has an active pipeline across all its major CEF offerings with increased interest in the Diversification CEF strategies
Post COVID-19, income to FuM remains unchanged at c. 75 bps of FuM
Companies: City Of London Investment Group
The COVID-19-related crisis further increases the top-line pressure. However, the quarter showed ongoing efficiency gains and, above all, management’s cost of risk guidance stood significantly below our stress test based projections.
Companies: Lloyds Banking Group
Smaller companies are usually a problematic area to invest in during significant downturns or recessions; and the sharp fall in 2020 hasn’t been an exception. In this article we assess the performance of smaller companies trusts throughout the pandemic, while identifying the factors that have differentiated the winners from the losers. This includes the impact that cash, market cap exposure, sector allocation, revenue exposure and growth or value biases have had, with some surprising results. We also ask whether now is an attractive time to invest in smaller companies, highlighting the trusts which stand out to us…
Companies: THRG GHE MINI RMMC ASIT ASL MTE TRG BRSC DSM
We wrote on 7 May, about the shape of the music global industry following the publication of the IFPI 2019 report. Taking a deeper dive into this report we examine the prospects of further growth in streaming numbers as the nonwestern markets come online.
Companies: Hipgnosis Songs Fund