10 September 2018 Kepler Trust Intelligence

Fund Research: Alliance Trust plc

LAST Update 4 July 2018

Alliance Trust has changed its spots dramatically, adopting a portfolio management approach that uses 8 sub-managers, each tasked with managing a highly concentrated portfolio, who are selected and overseen by Willis Towers Watson (WTW).

WTW allocate to managers so that stock selection is the key driver of returns, but weightings relative to country and sector are managed so that they are broadly in line with the MSCI AC World Index benchmark. As such and with net assets of c £2.7bn, ATST is a truly ‘global’ trust.

Now having had just over a year in the new form, shareholders have seen an improved performance, with the NAV rising by 13.7% since the start of April 17, outperforming the MSCI AC World index which is up 10.8%, and its nearest competitor Witan which is up 13.2% (all figures to 19th June).

Alliance Trust is one of the UK’s oldest and largest investment trusts, and has delivered a growing dividend to shareholders every year over the last 51 years. WTW have not proscribed any income requirement to any of the managers and so portfolio revenue has fallen somewhat in the last year. The board accepts that in providing a “smooth annual rise”, it may be necessary to pay an uncovered dividend by drawing in part on revenue reserves, which they believe are sufficient to support a progressive dividend for the next five years.

ATST’s discount narrowed significantly on the announcement of the change in strategy in January 2017, and has remained close to 5% since then.

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