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Liontrust UK Micro Cap 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 Liontrust UK Micro Cap Fund returned 0.4%* in July. The FTSE Small Cap (excluding investment trusts) Index and the FTSE AIM All-Share Index comparator benchmarks returned 1.2% and 0.3% respectively. The average return of funds in the IA UK Smaller Companies sector, also a comparator benchmark, was 1.9%.

 

The UK equity market recovered from a mid-month dip to add to this year’s strong gains. The initial decline was caused by growing concerns that the spread of the Delta variant of coronavirus would weigh on economic growth. These concerns come against a backdrop of rising inflation as data for June showed UK consumer price inflation of 2.5%.

 

Within the Fund, shares in investment management company Charles Stanley Group (+50%) surged after it agreed to be acquired by US-based investment bank Raymond James Financial. The 515p per share offer represented a 44% premium to the company’s share price immediately prior to the offer announcement and valued the company at £279m.

 

There were also a number of trading updates from Fund holdings. Mobile payments and messaging company Fonix Mobile’s (-15%) shares have traded strongly since admission onto AIM in October 2020, but July’s full-year update saw some profit taking. The results themselves looked solid; for the 12 months to end June 2021, gross profit and adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) grew 13% and 14% respectively and underlying cashflows were robust enough for the company to indicate its intentions to pay a dividend. Following this strong growth, the board said it is confident about the company’s growth potential in the new financial year.

 

AdEPT Technology Group’s (-13%) full-year results showed that the group swung to a £505k pre-tax loss in the 12 months to 31 March 2021 from a £2m profit in the previous financial year, a result of the pandemic disruption. However, the multi-site managed IT and telecoms provider said consumer confidence returned in the final quarter and has continued into its new financial year as pandemic restrictions are lifted. The company believes that IT investment will continue to be key for its customers and will help improve its position in the market in the current financial year.

 

An interim update from Science Group (+9.3%) was more warmly received as the company said its results for the first half of 2021 were well ahead of its expectations. Revenue grew 10% to £41m and adjusted operating profit rose 47% with good trading in all of its three divisions: R&D Consultancy, Regulatory & Compliance, and Frontier Smart Technologies.

 

Despite Solid State’s (-13%) shares ending the month lower, its full year results displayed the company’s resilience to the pandemic. The company manufactures ruggedised electronic components for use by industrial and military customers in harsh environments. It saw record profitability following a 110 basis point improvement in adjusted operating margins to 8.3% during the 12 months to 31 March 2021. This helped adjusted pre-tax profit increase 15% as revenue slipped 1.6%. Management stated that the completion of two bolt-on acquisitions late in the year significantly enhance the group's capabilities and leave it confident for the current year’s prospects.

 

The Fund participated in the initial public offerings of CMO Group and Microlise Group. CMO is the UK’s leading online retailer of general building materials. The company enjoys a capital-light business model, providing the e-commerce platform sitting between manufacturers and customers, but avoiding getting involved with the inventory-heavy physical distribution of product between the two. It is aiming to play a key part in disrupting the building products industry, which has so far been slow to move online and is still dominated by bricks-and-mortar players. CMO has strong proprietary intellectual property in its modular software platform, as well as a key distribution network advantage in having built up hundreds of relationships with product suppliers over the years.

 

Microlise is a provider of telematics software to improve the efficiency of its customers’ logistics operations. The company already enjoys very high market share – its customers include almost 60% of the UK enterprise logistics market (companies with over 500 vehicles in their fleet) and 46% of the medium size logistics providers (those with fleets of 250-500 vehicles).

 

There is significant breadth and depth in its software intellectual property, with a range of modules developed over many years. These range from solutions to track the location and monitor the performance of customers’ vehicles, through to a complex planning and optimisation module which enables customers to optimise driver routes and asset utilisation. The software is also sold on a recurring, software-as-a-service (SaaS) model and so the business enjoys highly predictable revenues.

 

Future growth is likely to be driven by cross- and up-selling of additional software products into existing customers, as well as international expansion. Since a management buyout in 2008, Microlise has been led by current chief executive Nadeem Raza, who still holds over 50% of the equity and did not sell any stock at the IPO.

 

The Fund sold Accesso Technology Group after its senior management equity ownership level fell below the 3% threshold required of all smaller companies held under the Economic Advantage process. The position in Inspecs Group was exited after the company outgrew the market capitalisation limits for the Fund.

 

Positive contributors included:

CMO Group (+59%), Charles Stanley Group (+50%), Belvoir Group (+18%), Frenkel Topping Group (+16%) and Tatton Asset Management (+15%).

 

Negative contributors included:

Surgical Innovations Group (-16%), Fonix Mobile (-15%), AdEPT Technology Group (-13%), Crimson Tide (-13%) and Solid State (-13%).

 

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

 

Jun-21

Jun-20

Jun-19

Jun-18

Jun-17

Liontrust UK Micro Cap I Acc

59.5%

4.6%

3.1%

21.4%

33.7%

FTSE Small Cap ex ITs

65.2%

-12.3%

-8.6%

6.4%

28.4%

FTSE AIM All Share

42.5%

-2.8%

-13.9%

13.5%

38.5%

IA UK Smaller Companies

53.1%

-6.5%

-6.2%

17.2%

36.3%

Quartile

2

1

1

1

3

 

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

 

**Source: Financial Express, as at 30.06.21, total return (net of fees and income reinvested), bid-to-bid, institutional class.

Understand common financial words and terms See our glossary
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.
 
Some of the Funds managed by the Economic Advantage team invest primarily in smaller companies and companies traded on the Alternative Investment Market.  These stocks may be less liquid and the price swings greater than those in, for example, larger companies. 

 

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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