Liontrust Special Situations Fund

September 2018 review

The Liontrust Special Situations Fund returned 0.4%* in September, compared with the 0.7% return from the FTSE All-Share Index.

 

While trade tensions, Brexit negotiations and emerging market worries rumbled on, the macro trend with greatest direct impact on the Fund was the strength in oil prices. Brent crude hit a four year high of $82.7 a barrel after the decision by Opec – in conjunction with major non-Opec producers such as Russia – to maintain production levels rather than target increases.

 

The Fund’s sector holdings include BP (+7.7%), Royal Dutch Shell (+5.9%) and Wood Group (+7.4%). This collection of stocks made a strong positive performance contribution over the month. 

 

In terms of stock-specific newsflow, full year results from Craneware (+47.4%) were the most handsomely rewarded by investors. The company, which is the largest provider of pricing and billing systems to US hospitals, reported on an ‘outstanding’ year in financial and operational terms. Revenue increased 16% to US$67.1m. Its new sales in the year – which included five significant contract wins or extensions – more than double while renewal rates were above 100% by US dollar value. In a bullish outlook comment, Craneware’s management highlighted a record sales pipeline for its new financial year and increasing long-term revenue visibility.

 

Despite commenting that it remains on course to deliver a FY2019 trading EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of £335m - £345m, shares in the AA (-13.0%) moved lower on the day of the release. Rather than focus on the maintenance of full-year guidance in the face of substantial headwinds in the first six months, investors instead chose to view the squeeze on interim profits from ‘extreme weather conditions’ – and the associated need to pay for third party garaging  to cope with volumes – as the latest setback at the company. We are more upbeat, viewing this as a factor which was out of the new management team’s control, and unrelated to the operational issues which had afflicted the previous management’s tenure.

 

Mortgage Advice Bureau (-11.7%) suffered from fairly significant profit-taking in September, with some investors viewing in-line interims as a cue to capture returns which were 54% over 1 year before the sell-off. It generated 17% growth in revenues to £57.9m in the first half of 2018 from an adviser base which grew 6% to 1,138. Since 30 June, the adviser network has expanded further to 1,157. The company stated that trading is in line with expectations, with planned growth being driven by expansion of its adviser network within an new mortgage lending market which is expected to be flat in 2018 and 2019.

 

During the month, we were able to deploy more of the cash position which had accrued this year due to the takeovers of several holdings. Following last month’s addition of Imimobile, we added three further companies in September: Coats, Sage, and TI Fluid Systems.

 

Coats, the world’s leading manufacturer of industrial threads, has three divisions: Apparel & Footwear, Performance Materials and Crafts. As well as significant intellectual property, Coats has an excellent distribution network which extends to over 100 countries and 50 manufacturing sites.

 

Sage is a provider of accounting software to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). In our view, it possesses all three of the Economic Advantage core intangible assets: intellectual property (via its software), distribution (though a software network which sits behind only Oracle and SAP for enterprise resource planning scale), and recurring income (78% in its most recent financial period). Although Sage faces competition in its core accounting market from new digital start-ups, we believe its intangible assets provide substantial barriers to competition.

 

Listed on the stock market last year, TI Fluid Systems is a leading global manufacturer of fluid storage, capture and delivery systems to the automotive sector. Examples of its products include the brake and fuel lines within a car, high pressure cooling systems, fuel tank systems and filler pipes. As with Coats, its Economic Advantage comes in the form of intellectual property and a strong distribution network. As a supplier to most of the world’s major auto original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), it has embedded customer relationships.

 

Positive contributors included:

Craneware (+47.4%), BP (+7.7%), Wood Group (+7.4%), Reckitt Benckiser (+7.0%) and RWS Holdings (+6.5%)

 

Negative contributors included:

AA (-13.0%), Renishaw (-12.3%), Mortgage Advice Bureau (-11.7%), TP ICAP (-6.3%) and Weir Group (-6.0%)

 

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

 

 

Sep-18

Sep-17

Sep-16

Sep-15

Sep-14

Liontrust Special Situations I Inc

13.8

13.7

23.0

6.0

6.9

FTSE All Share Index

5.9

11.9

16.8

-2.3

6.1

IA UK All Companies

5.5

13.6

11.7

1.9

6.0

Quartile

1

2

1

2

2

 

*Source: Financial Express, as at 30.09.2018, total return (net of fees and income reinvested), bid-to-bid, institutional class.

 

**Source: Financial Express, as at 30.09.2018, total return (net of fees and income reinvested), bid-to-bid, primary class.

For a comprehensive list of common financial words and terms, see our glossary here.


Key Risks

 

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 and is not guaranteed, therefore, you may not get back the amount originally invested and potentially risk total loss of capital. 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. The performance of the GF UK Growth Fund may differ from the performance of the  UK Growth Fund and will be lower than its corresponding Master Fund due to additional fees and expenses.

 

Disclaimer

 

The information and opinions provided 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.  Always research your own investments and (if you are not a professional or a financial adviser) consult suitability with a regulated financial adviser before investing.

Monday, October 15, 2018, 4:19 PM