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Liontrust GF European Smaller Companies Fund

July 2021 review

Past performance is not a guide to future performance. Do remember that the value of an investment and the income generated from them can fall as well as rise.

The Fund’s A5 share class returned 5.4%* in euro terms in July. This Fund’s target benchmark, the MSCI Europe Small Cap Index, returned 3.7%.

 

Despite a mid-month wobble triggered by growing concerns over the spread of the Delta variant of Covid, European equity markets rallied to notch up a small gain for the month. Within this, IT (+5.6%), materials (+4.5%) and real estate (+4.5%) were the strongest areas but energy was the biggest laggard (-3.2%) by some margin.

 

The oil price was broadly flat on the month, finishing at US$76.3 a barrel, but there was some intra-month volatility on the global growth concerns and following an Opec meeting at which the cartel decided to restore output to pre-pandemic levels, but only by the end of 2022.

 

The pattern of equity market returns was not mirrored by bond markets – the mid-month dip in investor sentiment drove yields down but they did not rebound as equities recovered. Partial explanation for this pattern could be found in the key central bank policy announcements during the month: firstly, the European Central Bank said it could tolerate inflation temporarily higher than its new 2% target, opening the door for loose policy to be retained; and the US Federal Reserve commented that, although progress had been made towards its employment and inflation goals, it was still too early to tighten policy.

 

Within the Fund, shares in Belimo (+13%) were once again among the top contributors. Having made gains in June on the back of an upbeat trading statement, it made further headway in July after the release of interim results. Belimo guided towards year-on-year net sales growth of about 10% in its trading update but went on to report a 17% local currency gain. The Swiss air-con actuator manufacturer commented that a faster-than-expected rebound in construction activity had driven a rapid return to above average sales growth.

 

Market research company Ipsos (+12%) reported interim revenue of just shy of 1bn – organic growth of 32% over 2020’s level and 14% higher than 2019. It has seen a very robust recovery in all regions, which has been matched by only a moderate 8% increase in payroll, resulting in a strong gearing effect on operating profit – up from €25m to €109m.

 

Pump manufacturer Concentric’s (+12%) Q2 results showed a 45% constant currency year-on-year rebound in sales, diluted to 38% in reported terms by the strength of the Swedish krone. Demand for its engine and hydraulic products has improved as the year has gone on, with raw material supply now one of the main constraints on short-term growth. Reported sales rose 10% on Q1, and the company stated that orders received and expected to be fulfilled in Q3 are significantly higher again over the Q2 level.

 

With around half its revenues generated in France, catering and support services group Elior (-8.3%) may have been viewed as one of the more vulnerable to the spike in Delta Covid cases in the country and the imposition of any associated public health restrictions. Late in the month, Elior issued Q3 results showing a 39% year-on-year bounce in revenues to now sit at 74% of the pre-Covid comparable (March – June 2019).

 

As a provider of digital workforce management tools, ATOSS Software (-7.9%) has been much better placed to withstand the business changes brought about by the pandemic, most notably a big shift towards remote working. It issued results showing a 13% year-on-year increase in sales in the first half of 2021, with cloud and subscription sales rising by more than 50%, taking the proportion of recurring revenues to around half of sales. While the results were strong, they were already priced into the shares and there was little to provide further impetus with the company choosing not to raise its 2021 guidance again having already upgraded earlier this year.

 

Positive contributors to performance included:

Belimo Holding (+13%), Ipsos (+12%) and Concentric (+12%)

 

Negative contributors to performance included:

Elior Group (-8.3%), ATOSS Software (-7.9%) and Marks & Spencer (-6.9%).

 

Discrete years' performance** (%), to previous quarter-end:

 

Jun-21

Jun-20

Jun-19

Jun-18

Liontrust GF European Smaller Companies A5 Acc EUR

59.6%

-11.0%

-2.7%

2.0%

MSCI Europe Small Cap Index

43.1%

-4.1%

-4.4%

9.8%

 

*Source: Financial Express, as at 31.07.21, total return (net of fees and income reinvested). Non fund-related return data sourced from Bloomberg.

 

**Source: Financial Express, as at 30.06.21, total return (net of fees and income reinvested). Discrete data is not available for five full 12-month periods due to the launch date of the portfolio. Investment decisions should not be based on short-term performance.

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Key Risks 
 
Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income generated from it can fall as well as rise and is not guaranteed. You may get back less than you originally invested. The issue of units/shares in Liontrust Funds may be subject to an initial charge, which will have an impact on the realisable value of the investment, particularly in the short term. Investments should always be considered as long term.
 
Investment in Funds managed by the Cashflow Solution team involves foreign currencies and may be subject to fluctuations in value due to movements in exchange rates. Some of the Funds may invest in derivatives. The use of derivatives may create leverage or gearing. A relatively small movement in the value of a derivative's underlying investment may have a larger impact, positive or negative, on the value of a fund than if the underlying investment was held instead. Some of the funds may hold a concentrated portfolio of stocks. If the price of one of these stocks should move significantly, this may have a notable effect on the value of the respective portfolio.

 

Disclaimer
 
This is a marketing communication. Before making an investment, you should read the relevant Prospectus and the Key Investor Information Document (KIID), which provide full product details including investment charges and risks. These documents can be obtained, free of charge, from www.liontrust.co.uk or direct from Liontrust. Always research your own investments. If you are not a professional investor please consult a regulated financial adviser regarding the suitability of such an investment for you and your personal circumstances. 
 
This should not be construed as advice for investment in any product or security mentioned, an offer to buy or sell units/shares of Funds mentioned, or a solicitation to purchase securities in any company or investment product. Examples of stocks are provided for general information only to demonstrate our investment philosophy. The investment being promoted is for units in a fund, not directly in the underlying assets. It contains information and analysis that is believed to be accurate at the time of publication, but is subject to change without notice. Whilst care has been taken in compiling the content of this document, no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made by Liontrust as to its accuracy or completeness, including for external sources (which may have been used) which have not been verified. It should not be copied, forwarded, reproduced, divulged or otherwise distributed in any form whether by way of fax, email, oral or otherwise, in whole or in part without the express and prior written consent of Liontrust. Always research your own investments and if you are not a professional investor please consult a regulated financial adviser regarding the suitability of such an investment for you and your personal circumstances. 

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