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 31.05.2020
Data as of 31.05.2020. Excludes Cash
|Europe ex UK||25.8|
|Pacific ex Japan||5.2|
Data as of 31.05.2020. Excludes Cash
Global equities closed May on a strong note. As the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic moved to Latin America, European economies started to reopen and lockdown measures were also eased in the US. Rising hopes that Europe and the US were over the worst, together with promising signs for a vaccine and treatments for COVID-19, lifted sentiment, helping investors overcome concerns about heightened tensions between the US and China.
While economic data was uniformly weak, there were signs that the worst may be over in both China and some European countries.
All sectors gained over May. Technology companies remained in favour, and cyclical sectors, such as industrials and materials, also performed well. Oil prices recovered on the back of supply cuts and a demand recovery in some parts of the world. This helped the energy sector recover strongly, although some of these gains were relinquished towards the end of the month. Defensive sectors, such as consumer staples, also advanced, but they lagged the broader market rally.
The Trust’s portfolio outperformed in May. Stock selection drove the bulk of performance, with contributions in the Consumer Goods, Industrials and Health Care sectors all delivering impressive returns. Holdings in Consumer Services and Technology performed less well. The Trust’s NAV returned 7.7% over May, ahead of the 6% return of the benchmark.
Agilent made the largest positive contribution. Having withdrawn its earnings guidance in April, the maker of bio-analytical and electronic measurement tools released a Q2 update in May which beat expectations. Revenues have proved more resilient than feared and the company has suggested COVID-19 may actually boost its activities in testing and therapeutics.
Stock Spirits Group (SSG) also performed well following an impressive set of results. Following significant investments into its brands in recent years, the Central and Eastern European drinks company saw a healthy increase in profits, raising its interim dividend over 5% as a result. COVID-19 has had a limited impact on operations or consumer demand.
AIA Group made the biggest negative contribution to performance. Shares in the Asia-Pacific focused insurance and financial services company fell sharply as political conflict in Hong Kong escalated.
TSMC also detracted from performance due to US/China tensions. The maker of semiconductors is directly impacted by a new US regulation to restrict Chinese telecoms company Huawei’s access to equipment used or made by the US. TSMC has said this rule should not affect 2020 earnings and is confident of substituting the demand. TSMC also announced plans to build a factory in Arizona. While the construction itself may be margin dilutive, the political gesture may have longer-term benefits. Fundamentally, over the longer term we expect TSMC to continue to benefit from digitalisation trends, a key driver of the investment thesis.
Since late March global equity markets have rallied at a rapid rate. A tidal wave of central bank liquidity, combined with government lifelines, has kept all but the most structurally challenged companies afloat. Steady easing of lockdowns in developed markets, regular news of a developing COVID-19 vaccine and perceived pent-up demand all boosted markets further.
Such equity market optimism defies several headwinds. Absent a COVID-19 vaccine, the threat of a “second wave” means some form of social distancing – and suppressed economic activity – is likely to endure. Already elevated unemployment numbers may thus be compounded further when government-funded furlough schemes end. US geopolitics also have the capacity to surprise negatively, whether domestically in the form of racial tensions or internationally through disputes with China.
This disconnect has resulted in sharp multiple expansions. Moreover, the rally has disproportionately benefited defensive growth industries, such as Information Technology and Health Care, while cyclical sectors like Energy and Financials remain underwater. COVID-19 has thus extended a decade-long divergence between growth (companies delivering consistently strong earnings growth) and value (companies which look cheap relative to their fundamentals).
Looking forward, the question is to what extent economic and corporate fundamentals can sustain a rally primarily driven by liquidity. It is encouraging that most major economies have bounced from the April low point, however this is to be expected given the severity of the lockdown induced contraction. Corporate earnings expectations are becoming less negative, with some US companies guiding towards 2019 levels next year. In Europe, a Franco-German stimulus programme has boosted expectations that unified monetary policy will find a fiscal counterpart.
While it is far from certain, a meaningful and rapid economic recovery would be of most benefit to lower quality cyclical stocks, where cash flows and balance sheets have been severely strained during the lockdown. We are conscious that many such companies are lowly valued and therefore have the potential to rally significantly in this scenario. However such shifts tend to be short lived in nature, dwarfed in importance by longer term structural trends such as demographics and digitalisation. Where the Trust has exposure to cyclical companies, it is to business models that we believe are fundamentally high quality, resilient, and with the potential to emerge stronger once COVID-19 passes.
All sectors gained over May. Technology companies remained in favour, and cyclical sectors, such as industrials and materials, also performed well
This is no recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any particular security.
|NAV (debt at fair value)||-1.6||-5.9||4.1||16.2||46.8|
Source: Thomson Reuters DataStream, percentage growth, mid to mid, total return to 31.05.2020.1
|NAV (debt at fair value)||4.1||1.3||10.2||32.5||-4.7|
Source: Thomson Reuters DataStream, percentage growth, mid to mid, total return as at 31.05.2020.1
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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