Henderson Far East Income (HFEL) performed strongly in 2019, unusually outperforming a rising market while continuing to achieve a well-covered dividend and a yield in excess of 6%. The trust, managed by Mike Kerley and Sat Duhra at Janus Henderson Investors, has a relatively concentrated (c 50 stock) portfolio that is split roughly equally between high-yielding stocks and those offering superior dividend growth prospects. Drivers of positive performance during the year included stocks from both sides of the portfolio, with limited impact from the US-China trade dispute given HFEL’s focus on domestic rather than export stocks. The managers are optimistic for a recovery in earnings and continued growth of dividends in the Asia Pacific region during 2020.
Companies: Henderson Far East Income
Henderson Far East Income (HFEL) continues to reward its investors with a c 6% dividend yield, fully covered by revenues and growing year-on-year (4.9% CAGR over five years), as well as capital growth (total returns of c 8–14% a year over three, five and 10 years). Manager Mike Kerley notes that payout ratios across the Asia-Pacific region are increasing, supported by the strong cash position of many companies, although at an index level it is hard to observe the improvement, because of the huge growth of non-yielding Chinese internet stocks. The manager holds a relatively concentrated (c 50 names) portfolio of stocks that are broadly evenly split between those with a high starting yield and those offering good dividend growth prospects, and are diversified by sector and geography.
Henderson Far East Income (HFEL) aims to generate a rising dividend stream from equities in Asia, including Australasia but excluding Japan. The trust currently yields 6.3%, significantly higher than all of its closed-ended rivals and higher than all but one open-ended equivalent trust. Using the ability of closed-ended trusts to hold back income in reserves, which open-ended funds don’t share, the trust has managed to increase its dividend in each of the past ten years. At the same time, it has increased its reserves to 63% of last year’s dividend payout. The trust’s tilt to defensive, dividend-paying sectors helped it outperform in 2018, although it underperformed in the growth and cyclicals-led rally in 2016 and 2017. Manager Michael Kerley runs a portfolio which is differentiated from most Asia Pacific ex. Japan trusts in terms of its dividend focus, tendency to be underweight software and internet stocks, and willingness to buy state-owned enterprises in China, which helps boost the yield on the trust. Thanks to its strong income track record, the company has traded on a premium for most of the past five years, and has therefore been issuing equity regularly. The premium has come down slightly in recent months to 1.6%.
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
Henderson Far East Income (HFEL) is a pan-Asian investment company with a focus on achieving a high and growing income as well as capital growth. While the emphasis on income will naturally lead the management team to focus on some older-economy sectors where there is a long history of rewarding investors with dividends, lead manager Mike Kerley reports that an increasing number of high-growth technology stocks in Asia are now generating healthy cash payouts. However, the manager retains a tilt towards value areas, in line with HFEL’s focus on buying into companies where the current share price does not reflect the underlying business value. The fund has consistently paid a higher dividend than its income-focused peers, supported by an option-writing strategy to generate additional premium income, and currently yields 5.9%.
Henderson Far East Income’s (HFEL) lead fund manager, Mike Kerley, welcomes the resumption of earnings growth in the region after five years of stagnation. He says that attractive opportunities still abound in his favoured areas of cash-generative companies offering high dividend growth potential or high yields, with the recent rise in P/E ratios across the region only partially addressing the longstanding undervaluation versus the rest of the world. The portfolio currently has a cyclical tilt, with more in financials and consumer stocks and less in utilities and telecoms, yet HFEL still pays a high yield (currently 5.4%), fully covered by income. The fund has tended to trade at a small premium to NAV and issues shares to meet demand. The recent introduction of a tiered management fee above £400m will reduce total expenses for investors as HFEL grows.
Henderson Far East Income (HFEL) is a relatively concentrated portfolio of 40-60 Asian equities, aiming to generate high income with the potential of long-term capital growth. Since February 2007, HFEL has been managed by Michael Kerley. Against a backdrop of the recent rebound in Asian stock markets, he suggests that the attraction of income from Asian equities has not diminished even though he believes investors have been focusing on growth rather than income. HFEL’s 5.7% dividend yield is the highest in its peer group. Having traded at a modest discount for part of 2016, HFEL has returned to trading at a premium.
Henderson Far East Income (HFEL) seeks to blend the superior growth prospects of investing in Asia with a focus on generating a high income. With a current dividend yield of 6.9%, it is comfortably the highest yielding of its close peer group, and manager Michael Kerley also sees potential for double-digit dividend growth in the portfolio over the next 12 months. Capital performance has been more muted in a period of volatility as investors have focused on the risks arising from a slowdown in China, but NAV total returns in the half-year ended 29 February 2016 were positive in absolute terms and ahead of the FTSE Asia Pacific ex-Japan index benchmark. Having traded at an average premium to NAV of 0.6% since launch in 2007, the fund currently stands at a small discount.
Henderson Far East Income (HFEL) has a high yield (c 6%) and a focus on achieving total returns from a portfolio spread across the Asia Pacific region, including India and Australia. While it has no official benchmark, it has outperformed the FTSE AW Asia Pacific ex Japan index over three of the last four discrete years to 30 June. The bottom-up portfolio aims to achieve a balance of dividend yield and dividend growth, with modest gearing in place and the ability to enhance income through selective option writing. Demand for the fund has been strong and it has issued 2.2m shares so far in 2015 to manage the premium to NAV.
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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.
AFH interim results have shown resilience in a tough period. Revenues grew by 5% yoy and Adj. EPS is up 8% yoy. We reduce our FY20 EPS forecast by 8% to reflect the wider market falls and slower new business due to the lockdown. This reduction in earnings is significantly less than peers, highlighting the defensive nature of the business and the prudent temporary cost measures being introduced in FY20. The improved FCF of the business should lead to a re-rating, particularly as AFH now trades on 9.3x CY20 P/E, a significant discount to peers. Our reduced target price of 524p implies 81% upside. Re-iterate BUY.
Companies: AFH Financial Group
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
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
Much has been written about the effects of the virus on the world and on the stock market. Here is one analyst’s take on some of the likely impacts on the way we should look at companies. This article was originally produced as a blog, “10 Changes Post Virus”, which was published a few weeks ago.
Companies: AGY ARBB ARIX DNL GDR NSF PCA PIN PHNX PHP RE/ RECI STX SCE SIXH TRX SHED VTA
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
Today’s FY update reports that the decisive action taken at the outset of the COVID crisis has protected returns. Revenues held up through to the May year end. Aided by cost savings, adj. EBITDA is expected to be 20% ahead. We expect a more modest final dividend to protect the capital surplus. Additional savings have been outlined, which we overlay on a conservative “flat market/fewer new clients” scenario for FY21e – where we hope outperformance is possible. Updating EPS forecasts: FY20e +25%, FY21e -10% and FY22e -7%; also incorporating the Hurley Partners acquisition (+8%). We consider MW a high quality core holding with long term potential.
Companies: Mattioli Woods
Tetragon Financial Group (TFG, Tetragon) achieved a 13.6% NAV/share total return and a 13.4% ROE in FY19, in line with its long-term target of 10–15%. The main driver of Tetragon’s performance was its asset management business (TFG Asset Management), which comprises managers with a total AUM attributable to Tetragon of US$27.4bn and generated an EBITDA of US$59.5m in FY19 (up 51% y-o-y). The late-2019 investment activity left Tetragon with a relatively low net cash position (4.1% of NAV at end-April). The shares trade at a three-year average discount to NAV of 44% (currently at 62.7%), which is relatively wide compared to peers given the company’s track record of delivering a 16% NAV TR pa over the last 10 years. The recent market sell-off has so far resulted in a 5.1% decrease in NAV (ytd to end-April 2020).
Companies: Tetragon Financial Group
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
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
MJ Hudson has confirmed that it expects to achieve profits in line with expectations for FY20E. This is a good result linked to new client wins during the COVID-19 disruption and timely cost management. Whilst much of the group's activities are proving resilient, uncertainty remains and in line with most of the peer group, MJ Hudson is withdrawing guidance for FY21E. We similarly withdraw our FY21E forecasts until visibility improves, moving our rating to Under Review. Meanwhile, the shares are now down 30% since their pre-COVID-19 highs, which is beyond that seen at outsourcing peers (Sanne, JTC). Whilst COVID-19 is presenting challenges for many businesses, we believe that: 1) the structural growth drivers in alternatives that underpin MJ Hudson's growth will continue to remain highly relevant, and 2) its strong balance sheet gives it a relative advantage.
Companies: MJ Hudson Group
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%.
Mattioli Woods has issued a trading update around the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We are reassured to hear that trading for the first 9m of FY20e (to Feb-20) was in line with expectations. There is likely to be a revenue impact, from falling asset prices and limits to normal business activity, however, it is not possible to quantify this just yet. A number of proactive measures are being taken to adjust the cost base to mitigate the short term impact, including reduced senior management team/variable compensation. We would highlight that c.55% of MW’s revenue is not linked to the value of client assets, providing a degree of insulation to asset prices. We make no forecast changes at this stage, but will monitor events and make any adjustments when there is greater certainty
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