The Scottish Investment Trust (SCIN) employs a high-conviction, global contrarian approach, aiming to deliver long-term, above-average returns via capital growth and rising income. It seeks to do this by ignoring the crowd, anticipating change and identifying a diversified portfolio of undervalued international stocks that will benefit when change comes. Manager Alasdair McKinnon views minimising losses during turbulent episodes as a key part of maximising long-term returns. Current positioning, implemented ahead of the severe market weakness triggered by the COVID-19 crisis, is thus intended to preserve capital and ride out the volatility. This pre-emptive approach has paid off, as the trust has outperformed during the downturn.
Companies: Scottish Investment Trust
<a href="https://www.edisongroup.com/company/the-scottish-investment-trust/2525/"><strong>The Scottish Investment Trust</strong></a> adopts a contrarian approach to investing in companies around the world, seeking to ignore the ‘madness of crowds’ and instead invest in deeply unloved areas of the stock market, where recovery potential has been overlooked by the majority of investors. It aims to reward shareholders with above-average returns over the long term and to achieve dividend growth ahead of UK inflation.
In this <a href="https://www.edisongroup.com/edison-tv/fund-manager-interview-alasdair-mckinnon-the-scottish-investment-trust/"><strong>interview,</strong></a> Alasdair McKinnon, manager of The Scottish Investment Trust, explains what being a contrarian investor means in practice and how this is facilitated by being independent of any fund management group. He also highlights some of the out-of-favour areas of the global stock market where he is currently finding attractive investment opportunities.
The Scottish Investment Trust (SCIN) seeks to ignore the ‘madness of crowds’ and invest in deeply unloved areas of the global stock market, where recovery potential has been overlooked by the majority of investors. Absolute returns have been strong year to date (1 January to 31 August 2019), with share price and NAV total returns of more than 10%. However, performance has lagged the strong rebound in global indices, which have been driven by a relatively narrow range of highly valued stocks. Manager Alasdair McKinnon is backing areas including gold miners (the outlook for gold is positive given lax monetary and fiscal policy against a worsening economic backdrop, yet miners have remained out of favour) and telecoms, which offer limited economic sensitivity and attractive dividend yields.
The Scottish Investment Trust (SCIN) seeks to provide investors with capital growth and a growing income, by investing in companies around the globe that are unloved by the majority of investors. The core of its portfolio (74% at 31 October 2018) is in ‘ugly ducklings’ – stocks that are both out of favour and operationally challenged – as lead manager Alasdair McKinnon says these can generate higher than average returns over the longer term. Because of its contrarian style, SCIN has no benchmark, and generally is not exposed to ‘hot money’ investments like US and Chinese internet stocks, instead focusing on areas such as bricks-and-mortar retail (where the manager sees the perceived threat from online competition as overdone), European and Japanese banks, ‘big pharma’ (which McKinnon sees as having stronger long-term prospects than they are currently being given credit for) and gold miners. SCIN recently announced its 35th consecutive annual dividend rise and offers one of the highest yields in its peer group, at 3.2% (2.7% excluding special dividends).
The Scottish Investment Trust (SCIN) seeks to avoid the ‘madness of crowds’, investing away from the herd in stocks that may be entirely out of favour with the market (‘ugly ducklings’), on the verge of significant improvement (‘change is afoot’), or still undervalued despite being more widely appreciated (‘more to come’). This leads manager Alasdair McKinnon and his team into areas of the market such as banks, food retail and oil companies, which have been somewhat left behind in a stock market rally that may in future be known as the ‘second internet bubble’. McKinnon reports that in spite of average market valuations being at high levels, there is still an abundance of global opportunities for contrarian investors. SCIN’s portfolio is modestly geared on a net basis and has an above-average yield compared with its close peer group.
The Scottish Investment Trust (SCIN) invests globally, with the aim of achieving capital appreciation and above-inflation dividend growth. A self-managed trust with a 130-year history, SCIN follows a contrarian investment style, with a high conviction portfolio of 50-100 stocks drawn from three categories: ‘ugly ducklings’, ‘change is afoot’ and ‘more to come’. The four-strong management team, led by Alasdair McKinnon, uses behavioural finance techniques to exploit the tendency of investors to ‘follow the crowd’. By focusing on stocks that are very unloved, those with operational improvements that have been overlooked, and more popular stocks that can continue to do better, they build in a margin of safety. There is an active discount management programme and the trust has recently announced a move to quarterly dividends from FY18.
The Scottish Investment Trust (SCIN), founded in 1887, is a self-managed global equity investment trust. It has recently taken steps to modernise and streamline its operations, and in October 2015 put in place a focused, contrarian investment process under a new management team. It aims to exploit the behavioural biases of market participants by identifying three types of company: the very out-of-favour; those where improvements have not been appreciated by the consensus; and good companies that could still do better. Recent performance has been strong, but the discount remains wider than average, perhaps reflecting a lack of awareness of the process and team changes. In H215 the trust repaid some of its long-term borrowings, further reducing costs; it now has one of the lowest expense ratios in its peer group, as well as a 34-year track record of dividend growth.
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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.
Premier Miton have reported their H1’20 results, which have shown delivery of key operational milestones during the period and strong performance despite the COVID-19 fears. Since the end of March, markets have recovered and net flows have been positive in April, meaning AUM has reached £9.9bn. We believe this shows the resilience of the business and that the benefits of the merger are coming through. As delivery continues we believe Premier Miton will see a significant re-rating as the shares currently trade on just 9.7x CY20 P/E, a significant discount to peers and historic levels of 12.5x. We reiterate our BUY rating and DCF based target price of 152p, implying 52% upside.
Companies: Premier Miton Group
The Renewables Infrastructure Group - £120m capital raise
Marwyn Value Investors - Proposed share acquisition by manager and crystallisation of carried interest
DP Aircraft I - 5% ownership stake in Norwegian
Companies: Renewables Infrastructure Group Marwyn Value Investors
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
Despite the disruption caused by COVID, Harworth has continued to make good progress across each business area. Liquidity has also been enhanced with an increase in the RCF announced at the end of April.
Companies: Harworth Group
Companies: AVO AGY ARBB ARIX BUR CMH CLIG DNL GDR HAYD PCA PIN PHP RE/ RECI RMDL STX SHED VTA
There has been much comment on the fact that equity markets in the US and Europe have been shrinking for some years now, certainly in terms of the number of quoted companies, if not in total market capitalisation (MCap). This paper has been written with the assistance of the Quoted Companies Alliance (QCA) and focuses on the evidence for such in the London market and, in particular, that for smaller and midcap companies. It assesses that evidence and considers explanations. Finally, we ask why it matters, and assuming that it does, what practical steps can be taken to reverse the trend. Successful public markets have been a key part of the United Kingdom’s economic success for generations, even centuries, and we should not allow them to wither on the vine.
Companies: AVO AGY ARBB ARIX ASAI DNL GDR HAYD NSF PCA PIN PXC PHP RE/ RECI RMDL STX SCE TRX TON SHED VTA
We believe RECI’s 21% discount to NAV reflects a reduction in investors’ confidence, reflecting the uncertain outlook, security values and potential impairments. When considering if this discount is excessive, we note i) a relatively low-risk profile, ii) strong liquidity means RECI can optimise recovery returns, iii) restructuring is a core competency, iv) realised losses to date are just 2.1p, v) bond valuations are expected by RECI to be repaid at par, but priced at 17% below par, and vi) borrowers have been injecting equity into their deals. The stable 3p 4Q dividend and unchanged policy show confidence and re-investment returns rising.
Companies: Real Estate Credit Investments
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
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
Trading Update – Showing Resilence
Companies: Manolete Partners
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
AFH Financial released an AGM statement suggesting that trading for FY20 remains in line with expectations. In the first four months of FY20 AFH has continued to see inflows at Q4’19 levels. The company also expects to see continued consolidation and a growing need for financial planning. Although the current market uncertainty has hit the industry, we believe that AFH is less affected than others by market movements due to its protection broking revenues and initial advice fees totalling 40% of revenues. We leave our forecasts and TP unchanged. These show AFH trading on 10.8x FY20 P/E falling to 9.7x in FY21, and yielding 2.8% rising to 3.1%. BUY.
Companies: AFH Financial Group
Given the substantial share price decline for Ramsdens in the last month, following clear risks to near term earnings, we revisit the group’s valuation and suggest a potential impact to earnings from the COVID-19 related lockdown. The analysis shows that Ramsdens has a solid balance sheet with a number of clear valuation supports and will be able to withstand the extreme conditions that are likely to occur over the coming months. We use an 8x multiple on FY20 earnings as a reflection of a normalised earnings base which reduces our target price to 180p from 258p. At this target price Ramsdens would trade on a FY21 P/B of 1.6x and yield 4.5%. This target price offers 114% upside and we retain BUY.
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
Companies: Mattioli Woods