In January 2019 we unveiled our new quant rating system for investment trusts, identifying both the top 20 trusts for capital growth and the top 20 trusts for income by using a quant screening system. We believe this is the first quant rating system for closed-ended funds to be based on NAV returns, which reflects the performance of the manager much more purely than the share price, which is a far noisier signal. We aimed to reward consistent long-term outperformers within the metrics we chose and the five-year time period over which we assessed them. In the New Year we will be rerunning our screens and rebalancing our ratings, but for now we are pleased to be able to report that in the first ten months since we revealed our selection, subsequent performance has been strong across both lists.
Companies: FEV TRY THRG IPU
TR Property (TRY) aims to generate total returns from investing in the equity of UK and European listed property companies. It also owns a small portfolio of direct commercial property in the UK. Within the total return objective, the trust’s dividend is an important consideration for the board and managers. TRY’s management team is made up of commercial property specialists who invest in property securities across Europe. Underpinning the investment process is a desire to invest with management teams who have delivered successfully through cycles. Manager Marcus Phayre-Mudge also takes a top down view on economies and economic prospects believing this is the fundamental driver of property and rental values. The big top down (and successful) call that Marcus took after the Brexit referendum was that traditional UK property sectors would be ‘dead water’, and so he has re-allocated overseas, but also shifted focus in the UK to niches such as student property, medical property and long-lease properties. A unique feature of TRY is that it also owns a commercial property portfolio directly. In the managers’ view, this gives them a significant edge over peers, given the market intelligence that owning a direct property portfolio gives when evaluating listed property companies, and meeting with other managers. At 14%, gearing is broadly in line with the level employed over the last five years. It is worth noting that given the underlying gearing of the property companies that TRY owns, the ‘look-through’ gearing level (loan to total value), is in the order of 42% according to the managers, in-line with the benchmark. TRY has done well relative to the benchmark, having outperformed in ten out of the past 11 financial years. As we discuss in the Portfolio section, the company has exactly the same currency exposure as the benchmark, and so all of this outperformance has come through stock picking or asset allocation. Currently, the historic dividend yield on the shares is 3.2%. While not in the formal objective, we understand that the board sets a lot of store by the managers’ ability to continue to grow the dividend. Since the 2009 financial year the company has paid a covered dividend in all but two years and grown the dividend by a compound annual growth rate of 8.9%.
Companies: TR Property Investment Trust
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
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We currently have 17 research reports from 3
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
Equals' FY19A results confirm another year of strong, double-digit revenue and adj EBITDA growth. The move to a B2B focused offering continues to progress and looks well timed in view of Covid-19's impact on overseas travel. While the pandemic impacted Q2/20E trading early on, we note June KPI's indicate a positive rebound. Given the continued uncertainty as to Covid's full impact upon FY20E trading, we refrain from reissuing forecasts and thus leave our recommendation under review.
Companies: Equals Group
FY20 results – increased firepower to acquire
Companies: First Property Group
Blackbird plc* (BIRD.L, 19.25p/£64.7m) | Mirada plc* (MIRA.L, 92.5p/£8.2m) | Tern plc* (TERN.L, 10.75p/£29.0m) | Checkit plc (CKT.L, 39.5p/£24.5m)
Companies: BIRD MIRA MIRA TERN CKT
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
Today's reassuring AGM statement confirms strong trading over Q1/20E and a resilient Q2/20E performance to date, despite the shutdown of the UK housing market over that period. A further +£1.3m of net cash has been produced this year which will partly be used to restart franchisee assisted acquisitions. Given current uncertainty over the economic impact of COVID-19, our recommendation remains Under Review.
Companies: Property Franchise Group
S4 Capital has announced the merger of Lens10, a leading Australian digital strategy & analytics consultancy, with MightyHive, its data & programmatic media practice. Founded in 2010, Lens10 provides a range of data services including digital strategy, digital analytics, optimisation and tag management. It is a certified Google Partner in Google Analytics, Google Cloud & Google Marketing Platform and is an Adobe Analytics partner. It has 25 data specialists in Melbourne and Sydney, and has a blue-chip client list including CottonOn, National Rugby League, Australian Ballet and ME Bank. Data analytics continues to grow in importance as marketers accelerate their digital transformation and S4 Capital indicates it has seen explosive demand for these services. No financial information has been disclosed, though we note the group reiterates its commitment not to compromise its balance sheet, which remains net cash. Separately, the group has announced that Miles Young, previously Chairman & CEO of Ogilvy, is joining the board. He has particular expertise in creative work and talent, new technologies and Asia Pacific developed over 35yrs at Ogilvy
Companies: S4 Capital
Record delivered full year results matching expectations with assets under management equivalent (AUME) slightly ahead as positive inflows more than offset the impact of market moves and fee margins were broadly stable. The group also demonstrated its operational resilience and expertise to clients during the onset of COVID-19 and accompanying volatility. Looking ahead, the group has a fresh focus on growth and to support this is investing in a measured way in IT and its staff.
REACT Group plc (REACT) is exploiting a gap in the market for specialist deep cleaning services for customers in the public and private sectors, with revenues split 50/50 between reactive work and regular maintenance. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a significant upturn in activity in certain sectors (such as healthcare and transport) but temporarily weaker demand from others (such as hospitality). While its Covid-related work is by no means its biggest revenue generator, the legacy of the pandemic is likely to have a profound impact on future levels of activity as all businesses and organisations become more aware of the importance of maintaining high standards of cleanliness and hygiene. With a new management team and strengthened balance sheet, we believe the outlook is positive, a view that has been supported by the Group’s interim results which have generated maiden profits.
Companies: React Group
Wirecard UK’s suspension by the FCA has been lifted, allowing U Account business through Shelby Holdings and Morses Club to resume as normal, permitting customers full access to cash, which was previously frozen, albeit ring-fenced in a safe Barclays UK account. Morses Club has offered its U Account customers free use of the previously affected U Account accounts in July as compensation for the issue, helping to mitigate any negative impact and ensuring the relationship with customers remains strong.
Companies: Morses Club
FY20 Interim results
Companies: Litigation Capital Management
A robust set of FY20E numbers and the absence of evidence of material bad debts increases, should reassure today and provide evidence 1pm's multi-product, sector diverse, hybrid model can deliver in tougher conditions. Given a NAV p/s of 62p (30p tangible), which now includes enhanced Covid-19 provisions, the material discount to book is clearly unwarranted.
Investors in search of income have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. Bond yields and interest rates have tumbled, and dividend cuts have proliferated. By contrast, the companies in Ecofin Global Utilities and Infrastructure Trust’s (EGL’s) portfolio have proved relatively resilient. In addition, when paying its dividend, EGL is able to use its distributable reserves to top up any shortfall in revenue that might occur.
Companies: Ecofin Glbl Util & Inf Tst
Gore Street has moved a meaningful proportion of its 900MW pipeline into exclusivity with agreements covering a 81MW operating site and a 50MW project in development, both in the GB market. These add to the recent announcements of projects in Scotland and near London. Power storage continues to offer the opportunity to acquire projects that will deliver the fund’s target 10% IRR and we think there is plenty more to go for.
Companies: Gore Street Energy Storage Fund
Martin Currie Global Portfolio Trust’s (MNP’s) performance has improved considerably following the appointment of manager Zehrid Osmani on 1 October 2018, since when he has refined the trust’s investment process. MNP has now outperformed its benchmark over the last one, three, five and 10 years. The manager focuses on high-conviction positions and his long-term horizon helps navigate short-term market volatility. MNP has performed well despite a lack of exposure to the high-profile, large-cap US technology stocks that have led the market. Osmani has generated alpha by investing in some mid-cap stocks that are not particularly well followed, such as US company Masimo (non-invasive patient monitoring technologies), which is now the largest position in the portfolio.
Companies: Martin Currie Global Portfolio Trust