Securities Trust of Scotland (STS) aims to generate income and long-term capital growth through a bottom-up approach to investing in global equities. The manager, Mark Whitehead, focuses on quality companies with an ability to sustain dividend growth, to build a relatively concentrated portfolio of 35–55 high-conviction stocks. In his view, this approach is naturally aligned with selecting companies that score highly on ESG issues. Since Whitehead’s appointment, and the adoption of the mandate, STS has delivered an annualised NAV total return of 12.9% and increased demand for its shares the valuation from trading at a persistent discount to trading at a premium to NAV.
Companies: Securities Trust Of Scotland
This time last year the team at Kepler Trust Intelligence (KTI) chose their personal ‘top picks’ within the investment trust universe for 2019. The aim was for each member of the team to choose the trust they believed would perform best from an investor’s point of view; i.e. in share price terms rather than NAV. Any trust could be selected, regardless of whether it was equity-focused or not. Overall the year was a prosperous one for those brave enough to hang on throughout. The MSCI World Index (in sterling terms) rose by 22.4%, with the US the best-performing major market. The S&P 500 rose by 26.4%, while the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 were up by 17.3% and 28.9% respectively. The DAX and MSCI Emerging and EURO STOXX 50 also increased. In terms of currencies the pound sterling ended the year roughly where it started relative to the dollar. This has masked what has actually been quite a volatile period for both currencies. The same pattern has been seen with sterling versus the yen, which started the year at around 140 and has ended at a similar level, around 143. What may surprise some investors is that sterling has appreciated relative to the euro by 5.9%; once more not without volatility, and with much of the gain coming in the second half of the year.
Companies: KIT STS AJOT TRG MWY
Securities Trust of Scotland (STS) is a broadly diversified global equity income portfolio that aims to deliver a rising level of income and long-term capital growth from a diversified portfolio of equities. At the helm of the portfolio is Mark Whitehead – who joined the group as head of income in 2015, spearheading a resurgence on income for the trust. Mark employs an unconstrained, bottom-up approach to stock selection and has introduced a number of measures to boost the trust’s capacity to generate income, including the disciplined use of derivatives and the increased use of gearing. Additionally, the trust has the capacity to pay income from capital, helping smooth dividends regardless of the economic conditions. Starting with an investable universe of around 3,000 stocks, meticulous analysis narrows the universe down to just 500 names. Particularly prevalent within the process is credit analysis and stress testing, where the manager examines a company’s free cashflow through different scenarios and in turn, their capacity for sustainable dividend growth. This is a particularly unique and important tool in the current volatile conditions where in the UK particularly, we have seen many of the highest yielders cut their dividends. Since Mark’s appointment in May 2016, the trust has performed strongly relative to the peer group benchmark, outperforming both the IA and AIC Global Equity Income total NAV returns of 47.4% and 53.8% respectively over the same period. Alongside capital appreciation the trust has a progressive dividend policy, aiming to offer investors inflation-beating dividend growth. Currently the trust offers a solid yield of 3.2%. The trust is trading on a discount of 4.3%, the second widest in the sector. This is despite the fact the trust has been the strongest performer in the seven-strong sector over the past year, and in the top three for the past five years.
Securities Trust of Scotland (STS) aims to deliver both income and capital growth to shareholders over the long term. Since June 2016, STS has employed an investment mandate that is not constrained by index considerations. The manager, Mark Whitehead, follows a rigorous bottom-up approach to construct a relatively concentrated portfolio of 35–55 high quality, large-cap companies with sustainable earnings and dividend growth. Since the change in the trust’s benchmark on 1 June 2016, STS has delivered an annualised NAV total return of 14.3% to end-August 2019. The board adopts a progressive dividend policy and refreshed the trust’s marketing strategy last year, including the appointment of director, Sarah Harvey, who is a marketing specialist.
ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. It is a broad term, covering the analysis of investments by metrics other than traditional financial ones. It has also been the stand out trend in the investing world over the last five years. ESG analysis represents a different way of at looking at companies and reflects the growing awareness that there are consequences of being a shareholder or owner of a business (other than receiving dividends), as well as a broader understanding that purely financial metrics only catch part of what a financial analyst should be looking at. In this article, we review the rise of ESG, the impact on funds and investment trusts, and the various ways ESG has evolved in the fund world, before taking a look at which investment trust managers incorporate ESG analysis in their management process.
Companies: SDRC HGG STS MHN MNP
Securities Trust of Scotland (STS) aims to achieve long-term income and capital growth through a fundamental approach to global equity investment. The manager, Mark Whitehead, is not constrained by index considerations and focuses on finding 35–55 high-quality companies with sustainable business models and financial resilience, in which to invest for a three- to five-year horizon. He also utilises the trust’s ability to employ options strategies in a controlled manner to generate additional income. STS’s board adopts a progressive dividend policy and, over the past three years, the annual dividend has increased by 24%. It has also recently refreshed the trust’s marketing strategy, and appointed a new independent director, Sarah Harvey, who has considerable expertise in this area.
As the end of the financial year approaches, we enter ‘ISA season’. In the first of several articles on generating income for an ISA investment, we look at the advantages of investing in equity income trusts. We explain why investment trusts can be useful for long-term, income-hungry investors, and the myriad benefits that the closed ended structure offers. We also identify trusts that best exploit the tools that investment trusts have to offer to achieve their income objectives, and illustrate how they may provide investors with a more dependable income stream for many years into the future.
Companies: MAJE PLI ASCI CTY BEE SAIN STS IPU IVI IBT
Securities Trust of Scotland (STS) is a broadly diversified global equity income portfolio that aims to deliver a rising level of income and long-term capital growth from a diversified portfolio of equities. The trust has undergone something of a transformation in recent years, implementing a new progressive dividend policy which allows income to be drawn from capital, and appointing a new manager, ex-Sarasin star Mark Whitehead, who joined Martin Currie as head of income in 2016. Since he arrived, Mark has built a strong team around himself – including the trust’s former lead manager Alan Porter – and put in place a rigorous investment process which sees potential investments put through a series of ‘tests’ designed to show how they will behave in unpredictable scenarios. Mark employs an unconstrained, bottom-up approach to stock selection, starting with an investable universe of around 3,000 stocks, paying particular attention to credit analysis and stress testing to identify companies that can demonstrate strong free cashflow, which they believe in turn translates to sustainable dividend growth. Since Mark’s appointment in 2016, the trust has produced returns largely in line with its peer group benchmark, up until the recent correction which saw the trust lag for stock-specific reasons. The trust offers a solid yield of 3.8% - putting it ahead of the majority of its peers in the AIC Global Equity Income sector in income terms. At the time of writing, the trust is trading on a discount of -6.53%, well beyond the weighted average discount for the sector (-3.3%), where the large majority of other trusts trade close to par or at a premium, including some which have only marginally outperformed STS over recent years.
Securities Trust of Scotland (STS) is a broadly diversified global equity income portfolio that aims to deliver a rising level of income and long-term capital growth from a diversified portfolio of equities. The trust has undergone something of a transformation in recent years, implementing a new progressive dividend policy which allows income to be drawn from capital, and appointing a new manager, ex-Sarasin star Mark Whitehead, who joined Martin Currie as head of income in 2016. Since he arrived, Mark has built a strong team around himself – including the trust’s former lead manager Alan Porter – and put in place a rigorous investment process which sees potential investments put through a series of ‘tests’ designed to show how they will behave in unpredictable scenarios. Mark employs an unconstrained, bottom-up, stock picking approach to stock selection, starting with an investable universe of around 3,000 stocks, paying particular attention to credit analysis and stress testing to identify companies that can demonstrate strong free cashflow, which in turn they believe translates to sustainable dividend growth. Since Mark’s appointment in 2016, the trust has produced returns largely in line with its peer group benchmark, and it now offers a solid yield of 3.8% - putting it ahead of the majority of its peers in the AIC Global Equity Income sector in income terms. At the time of writing, the trust was trading on a discount of -8.4%, well beyond the weighted average discount for the sector (-2.2%) – where the majority of other trusts trade close to par or at a premium (including some which have underperformed STS over recent years).
Securities Trust of Scotland (STS) aims to provide long-term growth in income and capital through investing in global equities. The current manager, Mark Whitehead, was appointed in May 2016 and adopted an unconstrained, bottom-up approach to identify high-quality companies that can be long-term structural winners. The portfolio holds a relatively concentrated number of high-conviction stocks, which the manager believes gives the portfolio both defensive characteristics, as well as delivering sustainable dividend growth. The board has a progressive dividend policy. In August 2018, it announced a refresh of the trust’s marketing strategy, materially increasing its budget, and the appointment of a new non-executive director with extensive marketing expertise.
Securities Trust of Scotland (STS) aims to generate rising income and long-term capital growth through investment in quality companies across the globe, with sustainable dividends supported by robust earnings growth. STS appointed a new lead manager in May 2016 and adopted an unconstrained investment approach, allowing the portfolio to reflect the manager’s highest-conviction stock picks in a relatively concentrated portfolio of 35-55 holdings. STS’s performance has since been positive relative to its new peer-based benchmark, while it has a comparable dividend yield of 3.5%, following an increased payout from FY16. It is one of two trusts in the peer group to trade on a discount to cum-income NAV, providing scope for the discount to continue to narrow.
Securities Trust of Scotland (STS) aims to generate rising income and long-term capital growth from a relatively concentrated portfolio of 35 to 55 global equities. Since May 2016, the trust has been managed by Mark Whitehead, who heads up Martin Currie’s income team. A new unconstrained, high-conviction investment approach was adopted on 1 June 2016, with performance measured against a peer group comprising both closed- and open-ended funds. STS has outperformed the peer group since the change in investment strategy. The trust actively uses gearing and has a progressive dividend strategy; its current dividend yield is 3.5%.
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Trading in the royalty partner portfolio over Q1/21 shows a material rebound from May, which has been sustained to date, as the portfolio as a whole returns to more normalised trading. Consequently, Duke's cash receipts, while down 20% YoY currently, are set to step up in H2/21 as forbearance measures largely expire and deferred royalties realised. This bodes well for a rebound in earnings and a return to cash paid dividends. A share price down over 55% since Feb 20, standing at p/book of 0.56x H1/20A's NAV p/s thus appears overdone. We await further clarity on the portfolio before reissuing forecasts, thus leave our recommendation U/R.
Companies: Duke Royalty
L&G reported an operating profit from continuing divisions (excluding Mature Savings and General Insurance businesses) of £1,128m, -2.2% yoy. The COVID-19-related cost was £129m. LGR posted a growing operating profit to £721m. Net profit amounted to £290m vs. £874m a year before, being affected by the reduced discount rate used to calculate LGI reserves. The Solvency II ratio stood at 173%. The Board recommended an interim dividend of 4.93p/share, stable relative to H1 19.
What’s new: Purplebricks Group results for the year to 30 April 2020, show the Australian and US units as discontinued; but include the Canadian unit sold for C$60.5m (i.e. £35m) in July. Investors will focus on the UK unit which revealed:
11% fall in UK revenue to £80.5m (FY19: £90.1m), as the number of instructions fell 23% (impacted by early Covid uncertainty and lockdown), but the average revenue per instruction “ARPI” rose 12% to £1,394;
UK gross profit margin improved to 64.1% (FY19: 63.0%);
UK marketing costs to revenue improved to 25.6% (FY19: 29.6%);
Spend on Digital capacity pushed UK operating costs 32% to £26.2m (FY19: £19.9m), as new management team pursued initiatives which are being “delivered at pace with significant opportunity for further innovation.”
UK adjusted EBITDA fell 53% to £4.8m (FY19: £10.2m).
Companies: Purplebricks Group Plc
For this Monthly, we are delighted that Rooney Nimmo and 24Haymarket have allowed us to reproduce a recent report they jointly published, entitled An analysis of UK exits (2015-2019), which provides a granular analysis by sector of the activity in our dynamic private companies world. We hope you find the insights of interest.
Companies: AVO AGY ARBB ARIX CLIG ICGT NSF PCA PIN PXC PHP RECI SCE TRX SHED VTA
H1 20 operating profit declined by 12% to £1,225m and the COVID-19 claims impact was £165m. Cash remittances from business units to the group was only £150m. The insurer said that it will focus on the UK, Ireland and Canada, which means an exit from other European and Asian markets. The Board has declared a second interim dividend in respect of the 2019 financial year of 6p/share and will inform shareholders about the 2019 final dividend in Q4 20.
Companies: Aviva Plc
Since the restrictions were lifted in mid-May, Belvoir has seen a surge in activity due to pent-up demand, resulting in June being a record breaking month for the group’s Newton Fallowell estate agency network in terms of instructions and sales and the financial Services division in terms of written income. Management have stated that with the positive impact of the stamp duty reductions still to take effect they are confident that the Group is well positioned to capitalise on the current market upturn and to take advantage of the opportunities arising from more challenging conditions. We have upgraded our PBT forecasts for FY 2020 to the level we forecast pre-COVID. We have also upgraded our target price from 169p to 233p and highlight that H1 2020 has demonstrated the resilience of the group, management’s ability to navigate difficult market conditions and the power of the franchise-led strategy.
Companies: Belvoir Group Plc
Vacancy strongly increased in Q2 20. LTV surpassed the 50% mark on 30 June 2020 due to strong value destruction in H1 20. Hammerson announced a £550m cash capital increase coupled with a disposal of £270m. Its ex-post pro forma net debt should be £2.2bn, i.e. LTV of 42% on a proportionate basis. Too high?
Companies: Hammerson Plc
We believe now is an interesting time to invest in Northgate, with a new executive board and a capable management team in place who have already delivered progress on an ongoing turnaround as we await a full strategic review. The group now has a clear and well communicated capital allocation strategy in place and improved earnings quality, in our view. We believe that the growth opportunity in the UK, the value of the Spanish business and the progress made to date with the turnaround are not being reflected in the share price, which is currently 15.9% below book value (414p per share in FY19A rising to 468p in FY22E). We use a variety of valuation methods including P/B, SOTP, DDM and DCF modelling and arrive at an average implied share price of 450p, 29.0% above the current share price.
Companies: Redde Northgate Plc
Today's update highlights that despite the Covid-19 outbreak and UK/IRE lockdown, which has affected trading, Duke has continued to collect cash royalties from most of its royalty partners. Short-term alternative payment terms have been agreed with those partners hardest hit, to support them to periods where royalties can be fully recouped. Therefore the 61% fall in p/b from 1.3 (at 20 Feb) to 0.5 today, appears overdone.
The group’s earnings surprise was driven by goodwill impairments. On the negative side, management upgraded, albeit slightly, its full-year loan impairments guidance and warns about revenue and CET1 pressure. It also reckoned that the tensions between the US and China will impact the group.
Companies: HSBC Holdings Plc
The Law Debenture Corporation (LWDB) has reported another strong set of results for its independent professional services (IPS) business in H120, with EPS growth remaining in the target mid- to high single-digit range despite a more challenging economic backdrop. With the trust’s largely UK investment portfolio having been hit by the widespread stock market sell-off in February and March, IPS has provided a larger than average contribution to revenue returns. This means fund managers James Henderson and Laura Foll can continue to search for attractive total return opportunities in a broad range of sectors, while maintaining LWDB’s focus on both capital appreciation and above-inflation dividend growth.
Companies: Law Debenture Corporation
As expected, the quarter saw a sharp increase in loan impairments. However, one can wonder if the increase was not capped by the group’s willingness to keep its results afloat. Management’s downbeat guidance in terms of revenue recovery potential and cost reduction does not bode well as regards the group’s future credit loss absorption capacity.
Companies: Lloyds Banking Group Plc
Despite challenging market conditions, Picton’s Q121 DPS was well-covered by EPRA earnings and robust portfolio capital values. Combined with low gearing, NAV per share was just 1.3% lower versus Q420 and including DPS paid, the NAV total return was -0.6%. With encouraging rent collection data continuing and the lockdown easing, we have reinstated our estimates and look for the quarterly DPS run-rate to increase in H221.
Companies: Picton Property Income Ltd.
The scaling of Duke's royalty portfolio was progressing as expected up to March 2020, with record cash receipts that month. Due to Covid-19 and the UK's economic shutdown, macro conditions have worsened and become highly uncertain. This is likely to see some royalty partners' future cash royalties decline, which in turn, will negatively impact FV's in the FY20E results. Duke's high margin and cash generative nature ensures it is well placed to trade through these challenges. Given the degree of uncertainty in outlook, we remove forecasts and put our recommendation Under Review and await further clarity on the portfolio.
Raven’s positive trading update was reassuringly robust, despite ongoing uncertainty regarding the long-term impact of Covid-19 on the Russian market. We believe that kind of performance deserves attention, although we plan to reinstate detailed forecasts post (a) the General Meeting scheduled for 31 July, which will decide upon proposals designed to create a simplified capital structure (outlined below) and (b) the interim results due in August.
Companies: Raven Property Group Ltd.