Stay up to date with our portfolio allocation, latest equity holdings and our quarterly market commentary.
Source: The Bank of New York Mellon (International) Ltd as at 31.05.21
The view from our Investment Manager, 31 March 2021
Over the first quarter of 2021, the Company’s total shareholder return and NAV total return were 3.5% and 5.9% respectively, with the MSCI All Country World Index (ACWI) returning 3.6%.
Global equity markets continued their rally over Q1 following the significant US government stimulus and the rollout of the vaccine distribution scheme, particularly in the US and UK. In the last 12 months, the MSCI ACWI has rallied 39% and is currently sitting higher than pre-COVID (end 2019) levels. With over 37% of US and 58% of British adults having received the vaccine the market appears to be pricing in a gradual return to normality. In this environment, smaller cap, value and recovery stocks outperformed. Whilst some higher beta growth stocks held up well late last year, they gave way in the first quarter and the value index outperformed the growth index by 8.5% in what was a meaningful style rotation.
We maintain our view that market cycles and style cycles are very difficult to time. Unlike an individual manager that typically has a single style of investing, Alliance Trust’s multi-manager approach with a mix of styles is typically more resilient to style rotations and the portfolio was able to outperform through the first quarter.
Within the portfolio, Alphabet Inc, the multinational parent company of Google, contributed the most to the overall performance of the Trust, delivering an absolute return of 16.8%. Internet search advertising exceeded analysts’ expectations, leading to a rally in the stock over the quarter. Volkswagen also stood out as a key contributor over Q1 returning 50.3%, the majority of which was delivered in March following the announcement of significantly higher operating profit than analysts’ consensus had predicted. Amazon. Inc was the largest detractor over the quarter, with an absolute return of -5.7% as investor uncertainty grew following CEO Jeff Bezos’ announcement that he will be stepping down from his current role.
The Company’s stock pickers continued to search for favourable investments for the portfolio throughout the quarter. A position was initiated in Ebara Corporation, a Japanese-based global manufacturer of environmental and industrial machinery. Ebara is a leader in incinerator technology for solid waste disposal and power generation facilities using its advanced environmental engineering capabilities and is a cashflow generative business with a strong balance sheet. In addition, there was an increase in the position in consumer staples conglomerate Unilever. Since unifying its structure, Unilever is well positioned to refocus the business to higher growth areas, likely including selling or listing its tea business and increasing its market presence in plant-based products in China, India and the US. The company aims to be a global leader in sustainability and its management is proactively addressing supply chain and climate-related risks.
Over the quarter, we maintained the level of gross gearing at the central target level of 10%, consistent with a more neutral outlook for markets in the medium term. Furthermore, we removed Lomas Capital from the portfolio of stock pickers and allocated the assets across the remaining stock pickers. The portfolio continues to be structured in a balanced way across eight stock pickers with different investment approaches, resulting in a diversified but high conviction portfolio of stocks.Monthly Factsheet Quarterly Report Sign up for updates
Sign up to receive our quarterly newsletter, monthly factsheet and other Company news.