The coronavirus pandemic has caused dividends to be cancelled or cut across the world, but the impact has yet to be fully felt – with more bad news likely to come in the second half of the year. Pressure has come through reduced revenues, due to a slowdown in economic activity and a regulatory interference in dividends being paid by industries which have received taxpayer support. The task for income investors is to identify the regions and sectors which are expected to be less affected; to which the Janus Henderson Dividend Index report has made an important contribution. In this article we summarise the key findings from the detailed report and apply them to the investment trust sectors, highlighting where we think the best opportunities lie.
Companies: BRNA NAIT JETI SOI HFEL BRFI BEE
Companies: BRNA NAIT JETI BGEU SOI HFEL BRFI BEE
Schroder Oriental Income (SOI) invests in high-quality Asian businesses which are paying (or have the potential to pay) an attractive dividend. Manager Matthew Dobbs helped launch the trust in 2005 in order to take advantage of a growing dividend culture in Asia. The trust has since generated strong dividend growth, and – as we discuss in the Dividend section – currently yields 4.4%. Thanks to the presence of highly cash-generative technology stocks in Asia, the trust offers diversification to the typical sectors heavily weighted by UK equity income investors. Stocks such as TSMC and Samsung offer exposure to secular growth stories which contribute to SOI’s differentiated total returns, as well as attractive and growing dividends. Matthew draws on the work of a large analyst team spread across Asia, which – alongside his 30 years of experience in the region – gives him an advantage in identifying high-quality companies. Notably, the analyst team are tasked with finding high-quality companies first, with Matthew then selecting those offering the attractive dividend prospects. Over the past five years the market has been led by non-dividend paying internet retailers (Alibaba, Tencent), which has created a stylistic headwind. In the same period, however, the performance has been close to that of the index, with periods of significant outperformance. Following the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, the discount has widened out to 7.3% compared to a five year average of 0%.
Companies: Schroder Oriental Income Fund
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 JAGI BEE SDV BRIG AAIF HFEL SCF SIGT BRFI IVPG CTY HINT JCH NAIT
Income has for a long time been top priority for British investors, stripped of the traditional source of income that a savings account once represented by a decade of negligible interest rates. But with bonds in a parlous state and the wheels finally coming off the buy-to-let bubble, the range of options available is increasingly narrow. Equities have for some time now been the beneficiary of this search for yield and equity income funds have done very well on the back of this, attracting huge inflows. However, as we have highlighted in the past, many of them are investing in just a small range of companies and those companies are themselves increasingly stretching for yield - putting this refuge for the income seeker on somewhat thin ice. With all this behind us, and mounting uncertainty about the current rally in front of us, where then is a sensible place to find it?
Companies: JCH IVI EDIN BRIG IVPU SOI BEE
Schroder Oriental Income Fund has a diversified £620m portfolio of Asian equities with a book of around 80 stocks held across a diverse range of countries and sectors across the Asia Pacific region, including Australia and a small but significant weighting in Japan, and a bias toward higher quality more mature companies. Managed by industry veteran Matthew Dobbs, who has more than 35 years’ experience as a manager in the region, the trust aims for solid total returns via a portfolio of equities offering attractive yields. Over the past 10 years (to the end of February 18) Matthew has delivered returns of 204% against a return of 166% from the index. In discrete terms the trust has demonstrated fairly consistent outperformance of peers and the index in each calendar year when the index has been in negative territory since the Great Financial Crisis (in which it marginally underperformed the index). In positive years, the trust has performed well too, with 2017 being the only year in which Matthew has delivered significant underperformance. At the same time, the trust has paid a covered, growing dividend for the last 11 years. The trust currently yields 3.7%, putting it among the highest earners in the sector and on a comparable footing with UK equity income focused trusts in yield terms. Having paid covered dividends in every year since launch, the board have a sizeable revenue reserve to draw on should portfolio earnings disappoint. The trust’s discount volatility has been relatively low. The trust has seen its shares trade between a premium of 4.8% and a discount of around 5% over the last five years, generally resting at neither extreme for long. More recently the shares have trended around a premium of c. 1.5%. Matthew pursues a conservative approach which, combined with the trust’s focus on income paying stocks, means it may be left behind during strong growth rallies – as it has been in the last year or so – but over the longer term the trust has outperformed the index by a considerable margin.
It is incredibly difficult to recognise entry points for markets or stocks: there is always a good reason for something to seem cheap but at the same time, a plausible cause for it to get cheaper. With threats of a trade war echoing in our ears and investors smarting from an unexpectedly tough first quarter, media attention has focused on the potential ‘buying opportunity’ in Asian equities, and against that backdrop we consider the outlook. As we show in the graph below, global stocks with the highest exposure to China have significantly underperformed since the start of March. Last month Trump announced tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminium and followed it up with wider tariffs in response to claimed Chinese intellectual property theft. After China announced its own tariffs in response, senior members of the Trump administration suggested the US might walk back their threats: commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said he expected the spat to end in negotiations, and newly-appointed director of the national economic council Larry Kudlow said that agreement may come before the tariffs are due to come into force in May. A weakening of the US position and an invitation to the negotiating table would be entirely in keeping with the past behaviour of the Trump administration. In January Trump was threatening to nuke North Korea on Twitter, yet now he is preparing to sit down and talk to its leader. It is a strategy he has followed in numerous areas: throw around threats, talk tough, and then negotiate back to a more reasonable mid-ground. However, there’s no guarantee that this time he won’t stick to his guns, and until a clear outcome emerges – volatility is likely to remain extreme.
Companies: SOI SDP AAIF IAT FCSS SST
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Cenkos’s first half results demonstrated the benefits of its flexible operating model and strength of its client relationships. While challenges related to COVID-19 are set to continue, Cenkos’s focus is on growth companies and its fund-raising year-to-date has had a greater emphasis on corporates financing M&A and growth opportunities rather than for defensive purposes. This should prove more sustainable although, as always, the timing of transactions in the encouraging pipeline reported remains uncertain.
Companies: Cenkos Securities plc
Following on quickly from its impressive full year results, these interim results confirm that our confidence for growth in the Program Management business was not misplaced.Contracted Premium increased 95% YoY (and 12% ahead of December 2019) to $925m –a stone's throw away from the $1bn 2020 guidance set in 2018. At the same time, Gross Written Premium (GWP) grew 42.6% to £247.2m, resulting in Economic EBITDA turning positive, at £0.8m compared to a loss of £0.3m in 1H19
Companies: Randall & Quilter Investment Holdings Ltd.
Primary Health Properties (LON:PHP) is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that holds a portfolio of 510 primary health facilities in the UK (92% of the portfolio by value) and Ireland (8%). The business model is to manage the properties for rental income and to grow the portfolio over time. The
Companies: PHP PP51 PHPRF
Record’s Q221 trading update confirmed that its new $8bn dynamic hedging mandate has started and that, prior to this, assets under management equivalent (AUME) expanded by 4% in the quarter. The group continues to work on developing new products and is deploying technology to enhance its ability to deliver these and existing products cost effectively.
Companies: Record plc
Cenkos Securities plc has terminated coverage of Record Plc. Our previous recommendation (BUY) and forecasts can no longer be relied upon.
Please contact Cenkos for further information.
What’s new: Today’s trading update reveals 17% rise in assets under management (AuM), double digit revenue growth, and an increasing operating margin as the business scales. The outlook is positive. Highlights are:
12.6% rise in 1H Group Revenues to £11.0m (1H last year: £9.7m);
21.9% rise in 1H adj operating profit to £5.0m (1H last year: £4.1m);
17.4% rise over 6 months in AUM to £7.8bn on 30 September 2020,
n.b. From 31 March 2020 the WMA balanced index rose 11.6% to 4510;
- Market movements added 12.5% to AUM (i.e. Tatton outperformed WMA);
- 1H net inflows of £328.1bn were 4.9% of opening AUM (i.e. c 10% annualised net inflows);
3.0% rise in Paradigm Mortgage Services member firms to 1,591
2.5% rise in Paradigm Consulting member firms
Interims will be announced on Wednesday, 18 November 2020
Companies: Tatton Asset Management Plc
Tatton has reported an in-line H1 financial performance: revenue totalled £11.0m (vs N+1Se £10.9m) and £5.0m adj. EBIT (50% N+1S FY21e). AuM grew by 3.4% to £7.8bn as net inflows continued throughout H1 (+£328m) – a positive performance given the backdrop. Paradigm, particularly in Mortgages, has been resilient post-lockdown. Having delivered 50% of our earnings forecast for FY21e, there is potential for upside. However, we leave our forecasts unchanged and a margin for safety as we remain alive to potential external risks/volatility.
ANGLE plc (AGL.L): Acceptance of FDA submission | Feedback plc (FDBK.L*): Partnership agreement | Open Orphan (ORPH.L): Human Challenge Study Model contract with UK Government
Companies: AGL FDBK ORPH
The interims confirmed that Covid-19 was minimally disruptive operationally in H1 20 and, ironically, may have improved both of R&Q’s divisions’ mediumterm trading outlooks. As the pandemic and other industry events have generated significant losses for insurers, they have created the current ‘hardening’ market driving demand for Legacy and Program Management.
There was an eclectic mix of property companies to feature in the top price movers for September. Top of the tree was private rented sector and residential development specialist Sigma Capital Group, with a 34.2% rise. The group launched a £1bn joint venture with EQT Real Estate, the real estate platform of global investment firm EQT, to deliver 3,000 private rental homes in Greater London. Micro-cap investor Panther Securities also hit double-digit gains, while Macau Property Opportunities saw an uplift in its share price after announcing debt refinancing and a disposal. CLS Holdings, the investor in offices in Germany, France and the UK, continued to see a recovery in its share price – which has risen 15.1% in the last three months. Off the back of solid results, Berlin residential landlord Phoenix Spree Deutschland saw its share price gain 7.2%. Schroder REIT’s share price rose 6.6% in the month as it embarked on a share buyback programme, while Irish commercial property investor Yew Grove REIT also saw positive shareholder reaction to amending its investment strategy to increase its target loan to value ratio to 40%.
Companies: SUPR DIGS CRC PSDL ASEI TPON RLE UKCM BREI BCPT RGL SIR SLI TOWN CAL
Life sciences is one of Mercia’s areas of focus and investment expertise. Seven of Mercia’s top 20 holdings at 31 March 2020 were in life sciences, valued at £29m in aggregate or 33% of total portfolio value (all of which had originated through Mercia’s third-party managed funds), with another c 40 earlier-stage life sciences investments across its third-party managed funds. COVID-19 has accelerated the opportunity for a new generation of novel and recombinant vaccines. This explosion of potential new treatments will require new diagnostics and bio-manufacturing support to scale supply once they are approved. These are areas where Mercia is already invested.
Companies: Mercia Asset Management PLC
The most pleasing aspect of Tatton’s trading update for the six months ending 30 Sep 2020 (H1 2021) was how robust its fundamental offering to clients (financial advisers) has proven to be in highly uncertain market conditions. It continued to attract strong net inflows into its asset management business while also growing its base of IFA consulting and mortgage services clients. The prospect of beating our previous FY21 forecasts looks promising. Longerterm growth prospects also look strong. We do, however, remain wary of the potential impact of further large market dips. For now, we maintain our fundamental valuation of 300p per share but see room for significant upside on that mark if Tatton continues to deliver.
NextEnergy Solar Fund has low operating costs, low finance costs and has consistently delivered generation outperformance. We estimate that it can sustain its current level of dividend with an electricity price well below today’s price. The shares show the lowest NAV premium of all the UK renewable yieldcos and the highest yield.
Companies: Nextenergy Solar Fund
It was a remarkable second quarter with global markets staging the sort of comeback few would have thought plausible, at the end of March. With some countries still battling the first wave of infection and others seemingly headed to a second, not to mention what happens when governments start to remove direct stimulus measures, uncertainty still abounds.
Companies: NCYF EGL NAIT NAIT THRG GCP IGC HHI JLEN PCT VNH ASLI IBT HRI CSH SIGT
Secure Trust Bank (STB) reported H120 PBT of £5.1m (vs £18.1m a year ago) and a 3.0% ROE. Income grew 4% y-o-y, but impairments almost doubled, and payment holiday charges also hurt. STB notes that since the lockdown ended, business has been rebounding. Its robust capital (CET 13.5%), business model and proven agility allow it to react to the changing lending environment. STB currently trades on a P/BV of 0.49x, reflecting sentiment more than fundamentals given its profitability track record and successful model. Our fair value estimate is 1,704p per share, down from 2,428p..
Companies: Secure Trust Bank Plc