The North American Income Trust (NAIT) is a £427m investment trust which aims to generate a steady, growing income and capital growth over the long term. Managed by Ralph Bassett and Francis (Fran) Radano, the trust has seen its discount narrow sharply this year as it moved to split stock five-for-one – making it easier for small investors to buy. Offering a yield of 2.8% the trust is one of two US-focused trusts which aim to generate income, achieving that via a focused portfolio of equities and bonds, mainly investing in large well-established businesses with strong records of capital deployment. In addition to equities and bonds the managers also use derivatives at the margin to boost the portfolio’s income. The managers have grown the dividend by 9% per annum over the past five years, while at the same time building a significant revenue reserve where, five years ago, there was virtually none. In performance terms the trust has delivered strong returns since Ralph and Francis took over in June 2015, generating NAV total returns of 79.6% against a rise of 61.7% in the Russell 1000 Value index. Shareholders have benefited further from a closing discount which means in share price terms the trust is up 104.6% over the same period. Since the early summer 2019, NAIT has been trading at a premium to NAV, following a steady re-rating that it has enjoyed since the start of the year. The trust is now issuing shares, which we would argue is a positive development for all shareholders. Given the tiered management fee, the OCF should start to reduce meaningfully if share issuance continues.
Companies: North American Income Trust
Fran Radano, the manager of North American Income Trust (NAIT), comments that the US market has been very highly driven by macroeconomic sentiment this year, with the effects of this frequently outweighing company fundamentals. He notes that, whilst it can be challenging to trade through such environments, increased market volatility creates opportunities for investors who are able to look through the noise.
Fran Radano, the manager of North American Income Trust (NAIT), comments that the US market has been very macro-driven this year, frequently outweighing company fundamentals. Whilst it can be challenging to trade through such environments, increased market volatility creates opportunities for investors who are able to look through the noise.
The North American Income Trust (NAIT) has been generating an attractive and increasing dividend (up 9% for the year ended 31 January 2019). It is also generating reasonable capital growth, despite an environment that has been favouring low-yielding, highgrowth companies. The manager, Fran Radano, is not unduly concerned about the health of the US economy. He continues to recycle the portfolio into good quality stocks that offer the prospect of reasonable dividend growth and should prove resilient in the event of a slowdown in the US economy.
The North American Income Trust (NAIT) has been generating an attractive and increasing dividend (up 9% for the year ended 31 January 2019). It is also generating reasonable capital growth, despite an environment that has been favouring low-yielding, highgrowth companies. The manager, Fran Radano, is not unduly concerned about the health of the US economy. He continues to recycle the portfolio into stocks that he believes are good quality that offer the prospect of reasonable dividend growth and should prove resilient in the event of a slowdown in the US economy.
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
Investors in the US may be preoccupied by a possible trade war with China and rising interest rates but the manager of North American Income Trust (NAIT) is relatively upbeat. He points out that the US economy is outpacing peers; markets have corrected and are some way off their peaks; investors’ narrow focus on growth stocks has abated somewhat; and, crucially for a trust that has an income mandate, dividends are set for a positive step change.
The North American Income Trust (NAIT) adopted an active strategy in 2012, aiming to generate above-average income and long-term capital growth primarily from investment in US and selected Canadian equities. NAIT’s performance has been particularly strong over the last 12 months in absolute terms and relative to its S&P 500 index benchmark and its NAV total return is ahead of the peer group average over one, three, five and 10 years. NAIT has a progressive dividend policy – annual dividends have compounded by 19.2% pa over the last three years and during this time there have been regular additions to revenue reserves.
The North American Income Trust (NAIT) is a concentrated portfolio of primarily US large-cap stocks. Manager Fran Radano selects companies
on the basis of their quality, value and income. The trust is benchmarked against the S&P 500 Index, but is also referenced against the Russell 1000 Value Index as it better reflects the investment mandate and income objective. Prior to May 2012, the trust was an index fund tracking the total return of the S&P 500 Index. NAIT has a progressive distribution policy (dividends have compounded at a 19.2% annual rate over the last three years) and since the change in objective has regularly added to revenue reserves.
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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
Regional REIT’s (RGL) results for the year to 31 December 2019 (FY19) confirmed its strategic and operational progress, with the financial results in line with expectations and the Q419 DPS paid as planned. Positive momentum in regional office and light industrial markets continued into FY20, but was punctuated by COVID-19. However, the portfolio is highly diversified and Q2 rent collection experience is encouraging, supported by an integrated asset management platform. The management team is experienced, borrowings are secure, and liquidity strong.
Companies: Regional Reit
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