Bonds have traditionally been a core part of private client portfolios. Harry Markowitz is generally credited with developing and popularising the modern approach to investment diversification, as part of his doctoral thesis in 1952. Markowitz’s 60/40 equity/bond portfolio quickly became a staple of retail investor portfolios, and for many years equity and bond portfolios built around this basic concept have been highly successful for investors. The attractions were clear: aside from the solid income that bonds offer investors as a portfolio component portfolio, they also provided something of a hedge to equity exposure.
Companies: UKW TRIG HICL SOND
The Renewables Infrastructure Group (TRIG) is a play on the burgeoning renewable energy sector. It differentiates itself from the other funds in the sector by being a non-specialist fund (wind, solar and battery storage so far) but with a remit to invest across the UK and in European countries where the directors and managers believe there is a stable renewable energy framework. Recently TRIG has announced a further extension of this policy, and the board is seeking shareholder approval to increase the proportion of assets the company can invest in Europe from 50% to 65%. TRIG invests in assets which offer attractive long-term cash flows, elements of which are linked to inflation. The aim of the company is to provide long-term, stable dividends for shareholders, with any surplus cash flows after debt amortisation being re-invested to help maintain the capital value of the investment portfolio. The current portfolio, when fully built out in 2020, will be represented by 71 projects, with net capacity of 1.5GW. This is equivalent to 1 million UK homes or 1% of the total electricity generated in the UK. Wind is currently the largest component of the portfolio (86% by value). However in the company’s recent announcement the managers state that to further diversify the portfolio they are considering investing in unsubsidised solar plants in Iberia, taking advantage of steeply declining capital costs and high solar resource. Solar provides a natural complement to wind technologies, given its peak electricity generation is during the summer months, while for wind peak generation occurs in the winter. The push to invest overseas has gathered pace over the last couple of years, and during the 2018 calendar year 77% of new investments by value were made outside the UK. For the six months to end-June 2019, the company has invested in five projects, all of which are overseas (in Sweden, France and Germany). In total, 45% of the portfolio is currently invested outside the UK, up from 28% at the end of 2018. TRIG has a progressive dividend policy. The company’s dividend has increased each year since launch, at an average compound annual rate of 1.8% pa. Every year the board sets a dividend target for the following year, payable in four equal installments. The current dividend target is 6.64p per share, equivalent to a yield of 5.1% at the current price and representing an increase of 2.2% from 2018. The company has delivered strong and consistent returns since inception. Over the past five years, it has outperformed the FTSE All Share index on a NAV total return basis, but with lower volatility. Since its initial public offering (IPO) in 2013 the company has delivered total shareholder returns of 10.4% per annum (to 30 June 2019). TRIG currently has long-term gearing of approximately 36% of portfolio enterprise value, all of which is all held at the project level. This is at the low end of the peer group. The longer-term debt is amortised over the life of each asset’s specific subsidy regime, which de-risks these assets over time (unsubsidised assets are not geared). The company continues to enjoy robust demand for its shares. Currently the share price premium over NAV is around 14%, a slight premium to the sector average premium of 12.7% (Source: Numis).
Companies: Renewables Infrastructure Group
Over the past two decades, onshore wind power has prospered and now exceeds 12 GW in the UK. The termination of subsidies for new plants from 2017 onwards has cut investment. Instead, offshore wind power is the new ‘goto’ investment sector, as there has been a sea-change in costs. The key event was the 2017 auction for the development of the Hornsea Project Two and the Moray East fields, when 15-year contract for differences (CfDs) were awarded, at just £57.50p per MWh; this compares with the 2018 £100 per MWh target that had been set previously by the Government. In recent years, solar power has come of age. Total UK solar capacity now exceeds 12 GW. Inevitably, most solar farms are based in the Midlands or in the South, where irradiation levels exceed the UK average. A typical solar farm portfolio might include 50 sites with 8 MW of capacity per site. Despite the removal of subsidies for new solar plants, the prospects remain bright for new build, since costs have fallen appreciably in recent years. The levelised cost (LCOE) of solar power should fall below £70 per MWh. The UK’s first subsidy-free solar farm has been commissioned at Clay Hill in Milton Keynes. For many investors, REIFs offer an attractive means of securing exposure to the benefits of rising UK investment in these sectors, much of which is backed by long-term contracts delivering generally solid and secure returns. Our sector research focuses on 11 quoted REIFs, which mirror those selected by members of the Association of Investment Companies (AIC). The recently floated Aquila European Renewables fund is included, despite its declared policy not to invest in UK generation. Since May 2014, REIF returns have been solid, with total returns approaching 10% per year. As a group, their combined market capitalisation is ca.£7bn; the most valuable quoted funds are Greencoat UK Wind (£2.1bn) and The Renewables Infrastructure Group (£1.8bn). The sector premia over net asset valuations (NAVs) for most REIFs now lie in the 9%-19% range. The premium for Greencoat UK Wind, following its £375m gross fundraise, is ca.14%; The Renewables Infrastructure Group premium is similar. Targeted real dividend increases underpin the attractions, in particular, of wind and solar investments; major earnings shortfalls are low-risk, with little likelihood of a dividend cut. Prospective dividend yields for most REIFs currently lie in the range of 5.0%-6.0%. In terms of risk, future movements of interest rates could have a material impact on NAVs and, consequently, upon share price ratings. The precise effect will depend on the degree to which the discount rates moves relative to the riskfree rate. Regulatory amendments, subsidy changes and possible tax adjustments are also key risk factors with one company commenting that movements in long term power price forecasts are the most significant risk.
Companies: TRIG UKW NESF FSFL AERS GSF GRP SEIT USF
TRIG – Renewables Infrastructure Group – Acquisition | INPP – International Public Partnerships – Portfolio update
Companies: Renewables Infrastructure Group International Public Partnerships
Fundraising showed signs of picking up this month, and the focus was very much on the renewables sector. First of all there was Renewables Infrastructure Group, which launched a placing programme and an initial fundraising early in the month, targeting up to £170m. It ended up raising just over £300m, having received applications for nearly three times as many shares as were originally available, in an upsized and scaled back issuance. Greencoat Renewables also announced and completed a placing which raised EUR 148m, around 40% more than the target. Another indication of interest in this sector was John Laing Environmental Assets successfully placing around 22m of its shares that were being sold by The John Laing Pension Trust. Finally, with regard to news in this sector, the close of the US Solar Fund* IPO had to be put back after just falling short of its target by the original closing date – closing is now expected to take place on 10 April.
Companies: TRIG BBOX UKW GRP ALF ELTA ESP FAIR BCPT BREI HTCF MERI UKCM
Renewables Infrastructure Group – Results of fundraising | Gore Street Energy Storage – Q4 2018 NAV and business update |
Companies: Renewables Infrastructure Group Gore Street Energy Storage Fund
The Renewables Infrastructure Group (TRIG) differentiates itself from its competitors in the listed renewable infrastructure universe in that it aims to provide a diversified exposure to renewable energy assets. TRIG owns different technologies (wind, solar, battery storage) across several countries (UK, Republic of Ireland, France, Sweden). As a whole, these assets offer long-term cashflows, elements of which are linked to inflation. As has proved to be the case during 2018, the diversification benefits of having a broad portfolio – smoothing cashflows and reducing risks to specific factors – have started to prove themselves. TRIG is a c.£1.5bn Guernsey-domiciled company, listed on the LSE and a member of the FTSE 250. It has investments in 63 assets in four different regulatory zones, with an aggregate capacity of 1,323MW - enough electricity for the equivalent of around 700,000 UK homes, or 0.6% of the electricity generated in the UK. We understand that this is equivalent to around 550,000 tons of CO2 saved per year. Currently the company has the majority of its exposure to wind farms, which represents 85% of the portfolio by value when fully built out. Of this, c.5% is invested in wind farms located offshore which the company is now seeking a mandate to increase exposure past the existing 20% limit. At launch, solar made up only 10% of the company’s assets, but now constitutes 14%. Over 2018 TRIG increased its geographic diversification with investments in the Republic of Ireland, France and Sweden. In January 2017, 17% of TRIG portfolio was invested outside the UK. This had increased to 38% by March 2019. Investing in more assets outside the UK has the benefit of contributing towards the company’s diversification of weather systems, regulations and electricity markets, whilst offering mitigation against localised risks. TRIG’s dividend has increased each year from launch at an average compound annual rate of 1.8% pa. Each year the board set a dividend target for the following year, payable in four equal installments. The current dividend target is 6.64p per share, equivalent to a yield at the current price of 5.6% and representing an increase of 2.2% from 2018. In NAV total return terms, the company has performed in-line with the peer group, but is outperforming the FTSE All Share index on a total return basis since launch, with considerably less volatility. Since its initial public offer (to 31st December 2018), the company has delivered NAV total returns of 7.8% per annum. This figure doesn’t include the uplift to NAV from the recent extension of the assumed life of the wind farm assets. In share price terms it has performed better. The company currently has long-term gearing of approximately 33% of portfolio enterprise value, all of which is all held at the project level. The company does sometimes have additional short-term borrowings at the fund level under its Revolving Acquisition Facility (RAF), currently £222m drawn. TRIG’s fund-raising to repay the RAF is in progress which, along with the proceeds from a refinancing of some project investments is intended to repay the RAF. Assuming this is successful, overall gearing is estimated to be c. 35% of portfolio enterprise value, which is at the low end of the peer group. The longer-term debt is amortised over the life of each asset’s specific subsidy regime, which de-risks these assets over time. TRIG has two managers who work together to achieve the company’s aims: InfraRed Capital Partners, which is responsible for the financial management, sourcing and executing of new investments; and Renewable Energy Systems (RES), which has a dedicated team of more than 40 providing portfolio-level operations management. The company has enjoyed robust demand for its shares, and according to data from Numis has traded on an average premium to NAV over the last year of 4.4%. At the current premium of c 5%, the shares trade at a discount to the sector average premium of c 9%.
Renewables Infrastructure Group – Fundraising prospectus and circular
TRIG – Renewables Infrastructure Group – February 2019 NAV and asset | BBOX – Tritax Big Box – Finals to 31 December 2018 | SIR – Secure Income REIT – Finals to 31 December 2018 | FSFL – Foresight Solar – Finals to 31 December 2018
Companies: TRIG BBOX SIR FSFL
Many investors think ISA investing is all about sticking equities away for the long term and forgetting about them. However, we think there are good reasons for allocating to alternative income-generating assets in your ISA, even for those concerned with longterm capital growth. We think that many investors don’t fully appreciate the benefit of reducing the volatility on a portfolio. When thinking about long-term returns, the tendency is to think of the average return in the long run as what you will get, and to think of volatility as a measure of the mark to market “discomfort” along the way. However, this ignores the devastating effect of sequencing risk, and the fact that a particular average annual return can be consistent with negative eventual outcomes. Adding uncorrelated assets, such as alternative income funds, to your portfolio can massively reduce the risk of a terrible investment outcome, and, as we shall see, without necessarily reducing the expected return. This is certainly true when you consider how favourably the returns of these alternative income funds compare to those from equities in recent years, another fact we think is under-appreciated, and which sets them apart from traditional diversifiers such as high-quality bonds. There is no guarantee that future return patterns represent the past, of course. With respect to the alternative income funds we consider below, there are specific risks to capital which have to be considered. However, we think that there is a way to use these trusts taking these risks into consideration. The re-investment of the income from these trusts, reliable in the short term, gives the investor the opportunity to “pound-cost-average” their investment in equities when they look cheap, or reinvest in the same high yielding alternative assets. We consider how this might work below, and look at a range of alternative income funds that might be suitable.
Companies: TRIG UKW HICL NBLS MGCI
CATCo Reinsurance Opportunities – Recommended orderly run-off | HICL Infrastructure – Update to 28 February 2019 | Renewables Infrastructure Group – Acquisition | Woodford Patient Capital – Listing, acquisitions and share issuance |
Companies: TRIG SUPP HICL
TRIG – Renewables Infrastructure Group – Finals to 31 December 2018
Pershing Square Holdings – Q3 2018 shareholder letter | Renewables Infrastructure Group – Results of fundraising | Hipgnosis Songs – Acquisition | Riverstone Energy – Tender offer results
Companies: PSHD TRIG RSE
TRIG - Renewables Infrastructure Group – Proposed fundraising | WHR – Warehouse – Interims to 30 September 2018 | NRI – Northern Investors – Interims to 30 September 2018 and liquidation
Companies: TRIG WHR NRI
John Laing Environmental Assets – Results of fundraising | Renewables Infrastructure Group – Q3 2018 NAV and possible fundraising | AEW UK – Q3 2018 NAV and dividend | Electra Private Equity – Sale of Photobox
Companies: JLEN TRIG AEWU ELTA
Research Tree provides access to ongoing research coverage, media content and regulatory news on Renewables Infrastructure Group.
We currently have 120 research reports from 6
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: AGY ARBB ARIX BUR CMH CLIG DNL HAYD NSF PCA PIN PXC PHP RE/ RECI SCE SHED VTA
With a new CEO, Amanda Blanc, Aviva’s shareholders could dream of a possible change in the group’s strategy, with a more focused insurance business. The new Chief has an opportunity to take painful decisions in a year where no one will require a high operating performance.
Companies: Aviva Plc
The Native Antigen Company (“NAC”) has been acquired by LGC for up to £18.0m – with the ongoing COVID pandemic highlighting the value of knowledge and execution in the infectious diseases space. Mercia invested in NAC via both its balance sheet and 3rd party funds. The exit represents a strong return for both sources of capital, validating complete connected capital to optimise value creation. For the balance sheet stake, the £5.2m proceeds represent a £2.5m gain on realisation (c.1.5% of our FY21e NAVps). Final Results will be announced next week, when we will review our forecasts. The shares are currently trading at a 45% discount to NAV (which is 20% cash). Today’s exit demonstrates justification for a much narrower discount, if not a premium, to conservative carrying values.
Companies: Mercia Technologies
Trading Well in Tough Market
Companies: Palace Capital
With the sale of The Native Antigen Company (NAC) for up to £18m in cash, Mercia expects to realise £5.2m (1.2p per share) for its 29.4% stake. This exit delivers another significant milestone in management’s strategy to achieve an evergreen funding model. Management has confirmed that the group is profitable on a day-to-day basis following the acquisition of the NVM VCT management contracts (NVM) in December 2019. NVM, together with additional allocations from the British Business Bank (BBB), has lifted AUM to c £800m. Management’s three-year strategy targets a sustainable, evergreen balance sheet with AUM of £1bn in FY22, with future investment commitments met through existing cash resources and realisations without the need for further recourse to the markets. Despite real progress, Mercia trades at 0.69x its September 2019 NAV, with the fee-earning funds business as further upside, not captured in an NAV-based calculation. FY20 results are due on 14 July 2020.
Accelerating activity in to FY21
Companies: Manolete Partners
HgCapital Trust’s (HGT) 12-month NAV TR to end-March 2020 was a solid 13.8% despite the COVID-19 market downturn in March 2020 (ytd NAV performance since end-December 2019 was a 6.2% decline). The coverage ratio reached a historically low level (13% vs three-year average of 53%) after HGT notably increased its investment activity and commitments in Q120. However, a significant part of these new commitments will not be drawn in the near term. The board continues to review its future funding arrangements and may also opt out of a new investment without penalty across all funds. HGT’s portfolio focus is on the resilient software and technology sector and the manager expects a limited direct earnings impact on its portfolio from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Companies: Hgcapital Trust
Hot on the heels of the Architas acquisition – announced 1st July, Liontrust has issued in line final results (£38.1m adj. PBT vs £38.3m consensus, 24p second interim dividend). An accompanying trading update also confirms that AuM bounced back in Q1 as markets recovered and net inflows were sustained at a record £971m for the quarter. The Architas acquisition – once completed later this year – stands to drive Liontrust through the £25bn AuM mark and bolster the existing multi-asset product offering and wider appeal to the current client base. As joint corporate broker, we have withdrawn forecasts pending the approval of the acquisition at the forthcoming general meeting.
Companies: Liontrust Asset Management
Ground Rents Income Fund (GRIO) has today released its interim results for the period ending 31 March 2020. The fully diluted NAV is 110.1p down marginally from previous NAV of 111.3p as at 30 September 2019 year-end. This valuation included a material valuation uncertainty clause as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has subsequently been removed since the period end for long dated ground rent valuations given the defensive nature of the income streams and continued market/transactional activity. The latest valuation represented a decrease on a like for like basis of £0.36 million or -0.3%. Two Interim dividends were paid during the six-month period ending 31 March totalling 1.98p, and a further dividend of 0.99p has been declared today (ex 16 July / payable 10 August). Dividend cover excluding the non-recurring litigation costs on Beetham Tower was 90%. Assuming a full year dividend of c4p this puts the shares on a flat yield of 4.9% and a discount of 26%.
Companies: Ground Rents Income Fund
Gfinity plc* (GFIN.L, 1.625p/£14.0m) | Blackbird plc* (BIRD.L, 16.5p/£55.4m) | Tern plc* (TERN.L, 11.5p/£31.1m) | The Panoply Holdings (TPX.L, 72.5p/£39.9m)
Companies: GFIN BIRD TERN TPX
ICGT, the 39-year listed private equity (PE) investor, has delivered a total NAV return of 178% over 10 years (comparable FTSE All Share return 61%). Since Intermediate Capital became the manager in 2016, ICGT has earned mid-teen p.a. underlying returns every year. This has been achieved by leveraging the attractive PE market with incremental manager synergies. It has a concentrated portfolio of “high-conviction” investments (19% p.a. average returns over five years, 42% of portfolio, defensive growth focus) and a diversified third-party PE funds book. ICGT manages over-commitment tightly. The 33% discount to NAV is above peers.
Companies: ICG Enterprise Trust
Numis’ update for Q320 was positive, reflecting both the need for equity funding in the market and the strength of the group’s franchise as well as its ability to deal with current operating constraints. Subject to the market background in its final quarter, we now expect Numis to achieve a full-year result in line with or ahead of the high end of our previous scenario range.
Companies: Numis Corporation
Beijing’s forced implementation of the Hong Kong security law threatens the region’s financial hub status. This is a potential game-changer for HSBC but it does not seem to come as a surprise for the group as confirmed by the acceleration of its investments in China or its efforts to secure a leading position on the RMB.
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
Burford has announced its results for 2019. As previously indicated, these were lower than in the previous year. Revenue fell 17% from $430m in 2018 to $357m. Profit after tax, on Burford’s basis, declined 31% from $329m to $226m. As announced earlier, there will be no final dividend so only the interim dividend of ¢4.17 was paid for FY19. Unusually, Burford has also released a trading update for early 2020 alongside its main figures. Court results and arbitral awards have been obtained that would generate some healthy profits. Most notable is $200m in income ($300m in cash receipts) regarding which further legal review is unlikely.
Companies: Burford Capital