Last updated 14th October 2021
T.S. Elliot once wrote that the only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility. Such a thought is certainly not lost on Alliance Trust (ATST). Rather than try to time the market or commit to any one style, managers Willis Towers Watson use their reach to bring together some of the world’s best investment managers to create a portfolio with alpha-generating potential but with a similar set of exposures and risks as the MSCI ACWI. The idea of bringing together a team of skilled managers without being ‘smart’ and trying to tip which one will outperform each year has paid dividends for the trust in a difficult environment this year. In 2021, ATST has been the best performing trust in the AIC Global sector, returning 16.4% in NAV total return terms to 08/10/2021. (Source: JPMorgan Cazenove, as at 08/10/2021). This represents a 3.8% outperformance of the MSCI ACWI, nearly all of which was generated by stock selection, and a 6.3% outperformance of its peer group’s simple average.
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In a year in which markets have been pulled this way and that by the Delta variant, the end of lockdowns, energy crises, and rising inflation, it has become increasingly harder to identify which style of investing is likely to outperform. This was not the case in prior years: in 2020 the winners and losers of the different stages of the pandemic were far more clear-cut. Yet in periods of macro uncertainty, maybe investors can still rely upon the earnings of quality companies? Despite the stars having seemingly aligned for the trust, ATST still trades on a 5.7% discount (as of market close on 08/10/2021), potentially an attractive entry point for investors who are looking to put capital to work but aren’t quite sure of how to approach the market.