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Liontrust GF Special Situations Fund

August 2023 review

Past performance does not predict future returns. You may get back less than you originally invested. Reference to specific securities is not intended as a recommendation to purchase or sell any investment.

The Liontrust GF Special Situations Fund returned -1.7%* in August. The Fund’s comparator benchmark, the FTSE All-Share, returned -2.5%.

 

The Bank of England implemented its 14th successive hike in this tightening cycle, taking interest rates to 5.25%. Wage and inflation data released later in the month confirmed the view that one or two more increases are likely to be needed before rates top out.

 

During August, investors were also paying close attention to trends in China, where interest rates are moving in the other direction. Having gradually disappointed this year against expectations of a post-Covid lockdown bounce in activity, China’s economic woes weighed on investor sentiment during the month. China’s central bank responded by lowering its one-year loan rate – the ‘medium-term lending facility’ – by 15 basis points, in a move that surprised markets and economists alike..

 

The UK market experienced broad-based declines with some pockets of deeper weakness in areas with greater exposure to Chinese demand – such as basic materials (-5.9%) and consumer discretionary (-3.3%).

 

As briefly covered in last month’s review, Domino’s Pizza Group (+15%) released a strong set of interim results on the first day of August. Like-for-like sales growth of 7.9% year-on-year was ahead of expectations. A programme of store openings has been accelerated, with 11 franchise partners opening 29 stores, helping boost total sales growth to 20%. With robust trading carrying over to the first weeks of July, Domino’s issued full-year earnings guidance which was about 5% ahead of analyst consensus forecasts.

 

Last month, Domino’s removed some succession uncertainty by announcing Andrew Rennie as its new CEO, having operated with an interim CEO since late last year. Rennie’s appointment was received with enthusiasm by investors, given his high calibre and significant previous experience across the Domino’s global empire: he was previously a successful multi-unit franchisee for a decade, and then spent over two decades at the Sydney-listed Domino’s Pizza Enterprises in multiple roles, overseeing a very strong period of growth at the business.

 

Industrial thread manufacturer Coats Group (+10%) had already warned in a May trading update of a fall in sales this year as customers destocked in reflection of subdued consumer demand and high inventory levels. Interim results showed an organic drop in sales of 19% in the first half of 2023. Including sale contributions from its recent footwear acquisitions – Texon and Rhenoflex – brings the sales drop to a more moderate 11%. While volumes may be under pressure, investors took heart from better-than-expected operating profit margins of 15%, up 30 basis points on the same period last year. Outlook comments were also encouraging, with Coats expecting volumes to gradually recover from current levels.

 

Paypoint (+11%) shares have enjoyed good momentum since a June trading update which outlined strong financial performance in the year to 31 March, including an upgrade to profits guidance. Previously, shares in the convenience store payments and e-commerce specialist had de-rated following the announcement late last year of a deal to buy gift card group Appreciate. The recovery was further aided by a trading update on 31 July which showed strong revenue growth of 20% in the three months to 30 June.

 

Having seen its shares jump in February due to bid interest from Apollo, only to tumble in May as the private equity group walked away, John Wood Group (+8.1%) was able to regain some impetus on the back of contract momentum and robust interims. Firstly, the consulting and engineering group announced the award of a multi-year extension to its relationship with Shell. Although no financial details were disclosed, the deal covers Shell’s global projects for a three-year period, with options for two one-year extensions. It then announced revenue growth of 16% to £3.0bn in the first half of 2023, with adjusted operating profit rising 9% to £89m. Although revenue growth is expected to slow in the second half, earnings are now on track to be ahead of the company’s prior expectations.

 

While excitement over artificial intelligence (AI) has boosted stockmarkets this year, particularly in the US, these gains have been very concentrated in a few tech giants. Investors have also attempted to identify the ‘losers’ from AI’s accelerated uptake and mark down their share prices accordingly. As a provider of a range of outsourced support services to the video game industry, Keywords Studios (-14%) is one of those that has been singled out.

 

Despite a solid trading statement released at the beginning of the month, showing organic revenue growth of 10% in the first half of the financial year and an adjusted operating margin of 15%, in line with guidance, Keywords’ shares slumped further in August and have now dropped around 40% this year. With the shares trading on around half their long run average valuation, we believe the pronounced fall has been overdone. As for many other companies perceived to be ‘at risk’ of existential threat from AI advances, the reality for Keywords is likely to be more nuanced than these sometimes violent shifts in sentiment might suggest. AI may yet prove to be a significant opportunity as well as a threat, if the business can harness its market leadership position and deep customer relationships to employ AI to drive efficiencies for themselves and their customers.  

 

Positive contributors included:

Domino’s Pizza Group (+15%), Paypoint (+11%), Coats Group (+9.6%), John Wood Group (+8.1%) and Sage Group (+3.7%).

 

Negative contributors included:

Keywords Studios (-13.5%), Hargreaves Lansdown (-11%), YouGov (-10%), IMI (-7.3%) and Renishaw (-6.7%).

 

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

 

Past performance does not predict future returns

 

 

Jun-23

Jun-22

Jun-21

Jun-20

Jun-19

Liontrust GF Special Situations

C3 Inst Acc GBP

6.3%

-11.9%

23.1%

-7.9%

6.6%

FTSE All Share

7.9%

1.6%

21.5%

-13.0%

0.6%

 

 

Jun-18

Jun-17

Jun-16

Jun-15

Jun-14

Liontrust GF Special Situations

C3 Inst Acc GBP

15.7%

19.8%

8.2%

8.0%

11.0%

FTSE All Share

9.0%

18.1%

2.2%

2.6%

13.1%

 

*Source: Financial Express, as at 31.08.2023, total return (net of fees and income reinvested), sterling terms, C3 institutional class. Non fund-related return data sourced from Bloomberg.

 

**Source: Financial Express, as at 30.06.2023, total return (net of fees and income reinvested), primary class. Investment decisions should not be based on short-term performance.

 

Key Features of the Liontrust GF Special Situations Fund

 

The investment objective of the Fund is to provide long-term capital growth by investing in mainly UK equities using the Economic Advantage investment process. The Fund invests at least 80% in companies traded on the UK and Irish stock exchanges. The Fund is not restricted in choice of investment in terms of company size or sector. The Fund has both Hedged and Unhedged share classes available. The Hedged share classes use forward foreign exchange contracts to protect returns in the base currency of the Fund.

5 years or more.
4 (Please refer to the Fund KIID for further detail on how this is calculated)

Active
The Fund is considered to be actively managed in reference to the FTSE All Share Index (the “Benchmark”) by virtue of the fact that it uses the Benchmark for performance comparison purposes. The Benchmark is not used to define the portfolio composition of the Fund and the Fund may be wholly invested in securities which are not constituents of the benchmark.
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.

This Fund may have a concentrated portfolio, i.e. hold a limited number of investments. If one of these investments falls in value this can have a greater impact on the Fund's value than if it held a larger number of investments. The Fund may encounter liquidity constraints from time to time. The spread between the price you buy and sell shares will reflect the less liquid nature of the underlying holdings. The Fund may invest in companies listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) which is primarily for emerging or smaller companies. The rules are less demanding than those of the official List of the London Stock Exchange and therefore companies listed on AIM may carry a greater risk than a company with a full listing. The Fund will invest in smaller companies and may invest a small proportion (less than 10%) of the Fund in unlisted securities. There may be liquidity constraints in these securities from time to time, i.e. in certain circumstances, the fund may not be able to sell a position for full value or at all in the short term. This may affect performance and could cause the fund to defer or suspend redemptions of its shares. Outside of normal conditions, the Fund may hold higher levels of cash which may be deposited with several credit counterparties (e.g. international banks). A credit risk arises should one or more of these counterparties be unable to return the deposited cash. Counterparty Risk: any derivative contract, including FX hedging, may be at risk if the counterparty fails.

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.

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