The data shown is not constant over time and the allocation may change in the future. Totals may not sum to 100.0% due to rounding. All data source Allianz Global Investors unless otherwise stated.
Data as of 31.08.2020
Data as of 31.08.2020. Excludes Cash
|Europe ex UK||27.7|
|Pacific ex Japan||5.4|
Data as of 31.08.2020. Excludes Cash
Global equities mounted a formidable rally in August, fuelled by continued monetary easing and rising expectations for a COVID-19 vaccine. The US Federal Reserve continued its dovish stance by announcing it would allow inflation to periodically breach its long-term target of 2% to compensate for below-target periods. This “lower for even longer” monetary policy saw the US dollar weaken further, while gold surged to an all-time high. In Europe, several countries recorded sharp increases in COVID-19 cases, although hospitalisation rates remain low. With the US election approaching, President Trump stoked US-China tensions by issuing an executive order banning the Chinese-owned social media platforms TikTok and WeChat. At a sector level, IT continued its strong run, followed closely by Industrials. Energy stocks gained slightly on the back of stronger oil prices, but remain this year’s weakest performers to date.
The Trust’s portfolio outperformed its benchmark during August, driven in particular by strong stock selection in the Financials and Consumer Services sectors. Against this backdrop, the Trust’s NAV returned 4.6% over August, ahead of the 3.8% return of the benchmark.
Having been one of the weaker performers last month, August saw the childcare provider Bright Horizons make the portfolio’s strongest contribution to returns. Results beat expectations substantially and management announced that it expects 85% of centres to be open by Q3. For most parents, lockdown has only underscored the importance of quality childcare. Even in an increased working from home environment, we believe the structural drivers underpinning the investment case will remain.
Itochu also boosted returns. The Japanese industrial conglomerate released robust Q1 results which included an increase to the dividend. August also saw Itochu announce it would take full ownership of the Family Mart convenience chain, providing scope for synergies in the provision of food, consumer goods and digital payments. The shares also received a boost on news that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway had purchased a 5% stake in the business.
Health care provider Fresenius released its Q2 results at the end of July citing stronger than expected headwinds from COVID-19 primarily due to the reduction in elective procedures. The majority of this revenue should be deferred rather than cancelled, and the structural drivers for quality health care around the world remain in place. That said, returns on capital at Fresenius have been declining in recent years and we are testing the conviction of our long-term investment case.
Enel also detracted from performance. Results at the end of July for the integrated utility company indicated weaker overall demand as a result of COVID-19, as well as fewer investments in new renewables capacity. The latter is a particular focus for Enel as it exits coal and other subscale markets.
We initiated a new position in IG Group, the digital trading platform business. Operating in a highly regulated industry, IG has consistently maintained the very highest standards of technology, customer service and regulatory compliance, often at the expense of short term profitability. This focus has allowed the company to attract and retain the highest quality clients. The business model has delivered stellar financial results over the long term with consistently strong organic growth in client numbers, revenues and free cash flows.
Having reduced the position earlier in the year, we sold the Trust’s remaining holding in the media and events company Informa. The rise of video-conferencing has raised questions about the long-term recovery of business conferences and exhibitions. Whilst there will be some recovery, the extent to which this happens is unclear and could take quite some time.
The unprecedented events of 2020 have sent the global economy and financial markets into unchartered territory resulting in an outlook that is highly uncertain, with a wide range of possible outcomes. The coming autumn and winter months should offer some clues as to the nature and shape of the economic recovery from the pandemic. Will the colder months lead to a resurgence of COVID-19 hospitalisations in Europe and the USA, making lockdowns necessary once again and prolonging the economic recovery? How will western economies respond once furlough and other income support schemes are unwound? Will further monetary stimulus be sufficient to support financial markets through a prolonged period of economic weakness?
It is difficult at this stage to offer precise answers to these questions. There is a wide range of views amongst expert epidemiologists and statisticians as to the ongoing risk of COVID-19. More time and more evidence is needed before a firm consensus will emerge. There is a similar divide amongst economists and financial market strategists. Headline economic data is awful and unemployment is all but certain to go up considerably. On the other hand, the (hopefully) temporary nature of this economic shock means recovery could be quite rapid.
Given all of these unknowns, now is not a time for taking extreme views. The Trust’s investments will remain focused on high quality companies, some defensive, others more cyclical, and broadly diversified across a range of industries, with stock picking being the primary driver of returns.
Given all of these unknowns, now is not a time for taking extreme views
This is no recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any particular security.
|NAV (debt at fair value)||3.7||2.0||1.4||14.9||66.0|
Source: Thomson Reuters DataStream, percentage growth, mid to mid, total return to 31.08.2020.1
|NAV (debt at fair value)||1.4||5.1||7.8||23.5||17.0|
Source: Thomson Reuters DataStream, percentage growth, mid to mid, total return as at 31.08.2020.1
1Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns. You should not make any assumptions on the future on the basis of performance information. The value of an investment and the income from it can fall as well as rise as a result of market fluctuations and you may not get back the amount originally invested.This investment trust charges 70% of its annual management fee to the capital account and 30% to revenue. This could lead to a higher level of income but capital growth will be constrained as a result.
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