Gabelli Value Plus+ (GVP) aims to achieve strong total returns through investment in a portfolio primarily of US equities. Managed by GAMCO, GVP utilises a disciplined proprietary investment philosophy known as Private Market Value with a Catalyst™. As we discuss under portfolio, this investment process focuses on both the intrinsic value and strategic premium that a company offers to a potential informed buyer. The team of over 40 analysts look to evaluate and understand stocks from a bottom-up perspective, and identify such opportunities where they also believe there exists a catalyst to drive this value realisation. A continuation vote will take place on 30/07/2020, and shareholder votes must be submitted before 28/07/2020. If the shareholders vote in favour of continuation, it is proposed that the trust could adopt new policies regarding an enhanced dividend payout, as we discuss under the Dividend section. This would significantly enhance the levels of distributions were it to be adopted. Similarly, proposals supporting continuation suggest a lower management fee be adopted (see Charges), and that buybacks be undertaken if the discount exceeds 10%. As we detail under Discount, the board in the previous financial year had in any event tended to support the share price with buybacks when the discount widened past this level. Performance has been undoubtedly challenging, with both the small cap and value factors, which the trust’s process inherently lends itself to, facing severe headwinds over most of the period since the trust’s launch. As we note under the Performance section, changes in inflation expectations will likely continue to support or weigh on near-term returns.
Companies: Gabelli Value Plus + Trust
The COVID-19 related shutdown has seen the largest US companies extend their share price performance leadership even further, and they are generally assumed to be the winners from any changes to the economy. In part, this outperformance reflects increased certainty that these companies are the beneficiaries from a change in working practices and structural shifts in the economy, but this outperformance has been a longer-running trend. Investors with US equity exposure might be tempted to tilt in favour of strategies exposed to this trend, but tactical and strategic investment considerations are not necessarily always aligned.
Companies: JAM PCT ATT GVP
Napoleon insisted he would rather have his generals be lucky than good. Increasingly, especially when investing in the US stock market, many investors opt for a passive fund, presumably viewing markets through the same prism that managers are really only ever lucky, as opposed to good. Yet many still choose active funds for a variety of reasons: a preferred investment style (or factor bias), or an alignment between the investor and the manager on the macroeconomic outlook are chief among them. For these investors, forming a view on when different styles are likely to perform, and on which macroeconomic environment we are likely to see is crucial. In this article we look at how different factor indices in North America have performed in different economic and market scenarios. We then examine which US-focussed trusts have offered the closest correlation to these factor indices in the recent past. Understanding the impact that broader economic trends have had on the performance of factors – and, by extension, on trusts that seem to operate in close alignment with those factors – can help us to understand and contextualise historic performance. It may also give us some insights on how to position for any anticipated future environment, although there can be no guarantee that historic patterns will repeat.
Companies: GVP BRNA PCT JAM
“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
With exposure across the market cap spectrum, and a disciplined proprietary value investment philosophy, the Gabelli Value Plus+ trust offers a differentiated investment solution and portfolio to a typical US equity vehicle. Using the proprietary Private Market Value with a Catalyst™ investment process that focuses on both the intrinsic value and strategic premium that a company offers a potential purchaser, the managers seek to identify companies which are trading on a substantial discount to the price which an informed buyer would pay for an entire business in a negotiated transaction. In addition to this, they seek to identify a catalyst(s) to realising this value, looking at a variety of factors or potential drivers of a rerating. These can be company specific or relate to the industry at large.
2018 saw the first negative calendar year for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones since 2008 and, despite a subsequent rally, sentiment remains divided between those who believe the US market has more room to run, and those who think the longest bull market in history will soon come screeching to a halt. Instinctively, it feels like a correction must be due and, indeed, a recent survey of Kepler Trust Intelligence readers showed the majority feel that there are choppy waters ahead. Among those who felt that the outlook was negative, the concern raised most often was the impact of any escalation in the ‘trade-war’ talk between China and the United States, while the national ‘black dog’ that is Britain’s constant companion – Brexit – continues to weigh on investor spirits closer to home. However, there are many other indicators which suggest the bull market could continue, making this a difficult time for investors wondering which way to jump. Against this confusing backdrop we look at three different scenarios for the US over the next year, and identify a number of trusts which are positioned well for each.
Companies: USA ATT GVP JUSC BRNA IBT JAM TPOU
Two years after the shock election of Donald Trump and with the US mid-term elections approaching on 6 November, we thought it a good time to strip out all the noise and bluster and assess what the Trump administration has really meant for US markets and the trusts that invest in them. We can identify two key policy moves Trump has achieved as President: tax reforms and trade tariffs. Each has significant ramifications for certain sectors and trusts, some good and some bad. The long-term effects are still in the balance, with the midterms a crucial fork in the road. Since Trump was inaugurated as president, the landscape of the US market has arguably transformed, with greater optimism around the near-term prospects for equities and greater pessimism around international relations. We take a look at how trusts have positioned themselves vis-à-vis these trends. “I promised the American people a big, beautiful tax cut for Christmas. With final passage of this legislation, that is exactly what they are getting.” Arguably the most significant piece of Trumpian legislation for the economy and the stock market was his wide-ranging tax reform introduced at the end of December 2017. This included cutting n the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and a dramatic change to the current model of taxation, in particular the taxation of US corporations’ foreign subsidiaries.
Companies: IBT USA BRNA ATT JAM JUS GVP
The Gabelli Value Plus+ Trust is a differentiated US equity portfolio with a high active share and a wide-ranging all-cap approach focused on identifying undervalued companies, including those with a strategic value to trade buyers. The trust was launched in 2015 during a difficult period for a value approach, but over the long run the strategy has performed well, returning 16% a year compared to the 12% of the US market. The aim is to produce real returns of 10% a year, and the focus is on bottom up analysis with no attention being paid to the indices – the trust’s portfolio has an active share of 94% to the S&P500, with a bias to small and mid-size companies where the managers believe they can add more value and which are more often the subject of takeover bids. The trust also invests a portion of its funds (currently around 10%) into companies that are the subject of takeover offers, which gives it low-risk returns not dependent on market movements. The trust focuses on total return rather than generating an income, so distributions are not guaranteed. Thanks to the value style being out of favour the discount has widened this year, although the trust traded on a premium the last time value rallied, following the election of Trump in late 2016.
The Gabelli Value Plus+ Trust is a differentiated US equity portfolio with a very high active share and a wide-ranging all-cap approach focused on identifying companies wihch the managers believe are undervalued, including an element of exposure to companies which are the target of mergers and acquisitions. Gabelli is a well known name in the United States, managing assets in excess of $40bn and the trust taps into the ‘Private Market Value (PMV) with a Catalyst’ investment strategy, developed by founder Mario Gabelli in the 1970s, which is now taught as part of the value investing course at Columbia Business School. Whilst there is no guarantee that this can be replicated in future the strategy has delivered significant outperformance relative to the wider US market over the long term, delivering ‘up’ years in 35 out of 40 between 1977 and 2016. Launched in February 2015, the Gabelli Value Plus+ Trust (GVP) had kept pace with the notoriously slippery S&P 500 index until the start of 2017 – outperforming it by a small margin – but fell behind last year as the index, and in particular mega-caps toward which the trust is underweight, raced ahead. However GVP’s managers don’t benchmark themselves against an index and, instead, aim for absolute returns typically to the tune of inflation plus 10%. The strategy which the trust mirrors tends to generate its relative outperformance in falling markets and has since inception – typically – lagged behind during quarters where the market has risen strongly, whilst outperforming the market when it has been in negative territory. Whilst it may underperform should mega caps rally again - having relatively low exposure to the largest US stocks - the managers believe the trust stands to benefit from increased M&A activity in the US, as companies onshore their money in the wake of President Trump’s tax changes, and from a positive outlook for domestically focused US stocks – which are a core focus for the trust.
In a report early last year, we analysed the argument surrounding whether value investing (a style that has significantly underperformed relative to growth investing) was about to make a sustained comeback. Simply put, value investing involves buying shares in companies that the managers believe are ‘cheap’ relative to the wider market and their own histories. Many value managers, however, will only buy ‘cheap’ stocks where they have pinpointed a potential catalyst they believe will lead to share prices increasing (by analysing metrics such as cashflow, leverage, balance sheets and external factors) in order to avoid ‘value traps’ - stocks that are still in a period of decline or worse, are heading for total collapse. Growth investing, again put simply, means buying companies that are displaying above average earnings growth. Most growth managers will follow a GARP (growth at a reasonable price) approach, which means they don’t mind paying higher than average valuations for a stock if they believe future earnings growth is undervalued by the wider market. In recent times especially, value investing has become synonymous with more cyclical stocks such as mining, energy and banks, while growth investing has meant a focus on more defensive companies (with futures which aren’t dependent on economic growth) such as utilities, telecoms, tobacco and other consumer goods stocks. Those who predicting that value stocks were on the verge of a new era of outperformance were proved wrong (or too early), as they generally underperformed growth over the course of 2017. However, in our report last year (and with the proviso that the past is no guide to future returns), we found that had been a correlation between the relative performance of value versus growth stocks and the trajectory of UK government bond (or gilt) yields, with value generally underperforming when yields fell (or when bond prices rose) and outperforming when yields rose (or when bond prices fell). Government bonds have delivered almost unprecedented risk-adjusted returns over the past three decades due to factors such as credit boom prior to the global financial crisis and ultra-low interest rates over the past 10 years. However, many believed bond yields would rise last year (as they did in 2016) as inflation picked up in the UK following Brexit-induced weakness in sterling, coupled with Donald Trump’s commitment to economic stimulus. However, despite these two strong forces at work, 10-year gilt yields fell from their peak of 1.54% in late January 2017 to 1.26% by the end of the year (representing a fall of c.20%). We don’t claim to be experts in global fixed income markets, but the commonly-held view among those who do, is that bond yields will rise over the coming years (though as we mentioned last year, many have incorrectly called the collapse of the bond market for a number of years now…). While this might not be repeated, and again like last year, our analysis shows that value stocks have historically outperformed growth when bond yields have risen. However, as we highlight in this report, it is surprising how little exposure the ‘average’ UK investor has to “value” as a style, with the large majority of inflows into equity funds heading towards funds with a clear “growth” or “quality” bias. As such, if this long-anticipated revival in value investing does indeed occur – most investors look likely to miss out, or worse, be hit by capital losses.
Companies: AGT WTR ASL TMPL GVP
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Although 2020 will probably go down in history as one of the most challenging years experienced during our lifetime, it will also likely be chronicled as one of the best years for the recognition and appreciation of science. As we entered 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was in its infancy. However, it rapidly evolved through the exponential rise in infections and mortality globally. Much has been achieved during the past 12 months in the fight against COVID-19, but, as we enter 2021, there are considerable concerns about the emergence of a mutant version of the virus and the second wave that we are now facing.
Companies: AVO ARBB ARIX BBGI CLIG DNL FLTA ICGT OCI PCA PIN PHP RECI STX SCE TRX SHED VTA YEW
Today's news & views, plus announcements from KGF, JMAT, LAND, GFTU, VTY, PTEC, BME, YEW, APP, BLV
Companies: LAND APP YEW
AuM grew by +43% (+16% organic) to £29.4bn in Q3. Investment performance was strong (+£2.5bn) as COVID vaccine news propelled markets. Net inflows were maintained qoq (£792m). Sustainable was the stand out performer (+24%). AuM has broken through £30bn post-period end. Better than expected AuM drives +3% FY21e EPS and +5% in outer years. Continued distribution efforts in Sustainable, Global Equity and Multi-Asset funds stands to catalyse earnings. Alongside flow momentum, 12x FY22e PER is not reflecting this upside.
Companies: Liontrust Asset Management PLC
I once sat through a three-hour performance of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot at the Theatre Royal which, despite the best efforts of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart – both of whom I like very much – to this day remains one of the dreariest experiences of my life. It is on that note that we welcome 2021, with all the promise it holds, and return to our ‘top picks’ for 2020, a year which is probably best summarised (for those of us lucky enough to have been not directly impacted by the virus) by the Lord Chamberlain’s censor in his review of the first performance of Godot in 1955 – in which he described having to ‘endure hours [and hours] of angry boredom’. As always, these ‘picks’ do not represent advice, and should in no way be relied upon as such; they have been chosen on a lighthearted basis with no thought given to their suitability for your personal circumstances.
Companies: TFG IPU IEM HOT OCI BRWM JRS RICA BHMG BRLA JMI GPM MINI SMT
Whilst falling power price forecasts (the product of a range of factors, including lower gas prices and reduced demand) have weighed on GCP’s NAV in recent quarters, the good news on vaccines should provide some relief. We explained the rationale for GCP’s rebased 7p annual dividend in our last note. We would note that, even after the cut, GCP trades on the highest yield in its sector (by some distance) and the investment adviser has a pipeline of opportunities lined up that it thinks will allow GCP to maintain and possibly grow the dividend in the future.
Companies: GCP Infrastructure Investments
Urban Logistics REIT (“REIT”) has acquired another high quality “last mile” asset in the Wirral for £16.3m (5.0% NIY). The 169k sqft site is let to a subsidiary of Culina. It is leased through to 2032 and has clear rental progression, with an uplift on commencement of a reversionary lease in 2022 and a rent review in 2027. 99% rents for the Jan-Mar quarter have already been collected – highlighting the resilience in the tenant base/income. We do not change forecasts, already assuming full deployment by year end. We estimate that c.£75m capital capacity remains. We note a 6%+ dividend yield in FY22e – a 12m period of full capital deployment – and note that the discount ignores embedded NAV growth potential.
Companies: Urban Logistics REIT plc
The Thistle Portfolio - Sigma’s first PRS mandate for clients of Gatehouse Bank – has been sold to Goldman Sachs and Pitmore for c.£150m. This was built at a £110m cost only ~5 years ago. This marks one of the few major transactions of a portfolio of single-let family homes in the UK and underscores the value which Sigma’s model is able to create with the 4.15% exit net initial yield (“NIY”) a full 35bps better than current assumption. This has positive implications for returns in The PRS REIT, the EQT mandate and for Sigma’s model overall. The sale crystallises a c.£3m carried interest; higher than expected. We do not change forecasts in light of imminent FY20 results. Sigma continues to trade at a significant discount to our 200p/share intrinsic value, which excludes any upside from further fundraising.
Companies: Sigma Capital Group plc
Further media reports that Dr Martens, the British Boot brand is planning an IPO on the LSE. It is currently owned by PE group, Permira who is expected to sell down its stake at the IPO. March 2020 YE the group had revenues of £672m and EBITDA of £184m. Deal size TBC. Upon Admission to AIM, Nightcap will acquire The London Cocktail Club Limited (the "London Cocktail Club"), which is an award winning independent operator of ten individually themed cocktail bars in nine London locations and one location in Bristol. Offer TBC Due mid Jan. HSS Hire Group, HSS.L transfer from Main to Aim. Mkt Cap c. £70m. Recently raised £52.6m. Leading supplier of tool and equipment for hire in the United Kingdom and Ireland and has provided equipment hire services in the United Kingdom for more than 60 years, primarily focusing on the B2B market. Due 14 Jan. VH Global Sustainable Energy Opportunities plc, a closed-ended investment Company focused on making sustainable energy infrastructure investments, today announces intends to launch an initial public offering of shares on the Official List (Premium) of the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange. Due by Early Feb.
Companies: IUG CBP KAT APP RST DIS NICL BOKU CNIC HE1
Hipgnosis Songs Fund, is independently valued by Massarsky, who in December chose to reduce the discount rate on the revenues generated by the portfolio from 9% to 8.5%, due to strong evidence of growth in streaming numbers and the stable nature of the revenue stream. This produced a NAV of 125.35p as at the 30 September interim period end. It is worth noting the recent publication of significant changes in the discount rate as announced by Professor Aswath Damodaran of the Stern Business School in New York for the Entertainment Industry to 4.82% from 7.83% in January 2020. Combined with recent evidence that music streaming revenues in 2020 are now larger than the entire music market in 2016, we believe this is an encouraging backdrop for potential further reductions in the discount rate being applied by Massarsky going forward
Companies: Hipgnosis Songs Fund C Shares
Henderson Opportunities Trust (HOT) has performed strongly since experiencing sharp NAV and share price declines in the Q120 market sell-off, powering to the top of the AIC UK All Companies sector over the past 12 months with an NAV total return of c 40% in the second half of 2020. Managers James Henderson and Laura Foll say performance has benefited from holding a number of ‘next-generation leaders’ in the UK. The portfolio is esoteric in its make-up and seeks to avoid being overly exposed to trends in the global and domestic economy. The managers continue to see good value opportunities across the UK market, particularly on AIM, and say their intention to maintain gearing at a ‘decent’ level (c 10–15%) is indicative of feeling the portfolio and market offer good value.
Companies: Henderson Opportunities Trust
The PRS REIT (“PRSR”) has seen 529 completions in Q2 as momentum is sustained. 3,163 homes have been completed (£29m ERV) progressing towards the 5,200 target by FY22e. We note the Thistle Portfolio sale announced today will likely provide a positive catalyst for valuation in the next 12 months. The shares currently trade on a 24% discount to NAV with a 5%+ yield (growing to 6.5% on stabilisation). We expect progress over the next 9-12m to represent an inflection point in terms of return visibility and the discount to narrow, alongside an attractive yield and NAV progression, driving a total return profile.
Companies: PRS REIT Plc
CVC Credit Partners European Opportunities (CCPEOL) has achieved a total NAV return of 1.9% (target 8% annual return) in the last 12 months. Its index outperformance was helped by sector rotation early in the COVID-19 crisis and by staying positive on the market. The manager sees the greatest opportunity in the upper CCC and lower B segments and in structured finance. CCPEOL remains optimistic in the credit opportunities segment, despite the market recovery. It expects 2021 will bring more leveraged loan issuance from broader industrial segments, thus providing greater investment prospects. Portfolio resilience led CCPEOL to raise its annual dividend from 4p/4c per share to 4.5p/4.5c in September 2020.
Companies: CVC Credit Partners Europn Opprtnity
Cornish Metals (TSX-V: CUSN) intends to list on AIM. The Company is proposing to raise £5 million by way of private placement of new Common Shares (the "Fundraising") to advance the United Downs copper-tin project. The Company expects that Admission will become effective in February 2021. The Company's Common Shares will continue to be listed and trade on the TSX-V in Canada. Further media reports that Dr Martens, the British Boot brand is planning an IPO on the LSE. It is currently owned by PE group, Permira who is expected to sell down its stake at the IPO. March 2020 YE the group had revenues of £672m and EBITDA of £184m. Deal size TBC. VH Global Sustainable Energy Opportunities plc, a closed-ended investment Company focused on making sustainable energy infrastructure investments, today announces intends to launch an initial public offering of shares on the Official List (Premium) of the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange. Due by Early Feb. Moonpig, the digital greeting card company, is planning an IPO with a potential valuation of £1bln, according to multiple media reports. Further details expected to be announced over the next two weeks.
Companies: ZPHR PANR PRSM SENS CYAN G4M ITX CRCL FEN ZIN
Interim results demonstrate YoY growth and a resilient outcome that has exceeded management's expectations from the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is testament to the degree of recurring revenue generated across the business. FY21 trading looks to be more challenging, as notably lower new insurance sales post-lockdown will translate into lower premium income. A number of organic opportunities are being worked on to fill the shortfall. Rising UK redundancies and their impact on policyholder retentions creates great uncertainty, hence our forecasts remain withdrawn and recommendation remains Under Review.
Companies: Personal Group Holdings Plc
Atlantis Japan Growth Fund (AJG) invests in a diversified portfolio of listed Japanese equities, with the aim of realising long-term capital growth. It has a bias towards growth stocks. Lead adviser Taeko Setaishi believes several trends accelerated by the coronavirus crisis and new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s structural reform agenda have the potential to generate new investment opportunities and productivity gains, which will benefit companies in many sectors. AJG’s performance has been positive in absolute terms and it has outperformed its benchmark over one, three, five and 10 years. The fund has also outperformed the UK market over all these periods. AJG pays a quarterly dividend of 1% of NAV.
Companies: Atlantis Japan Growth Fund