Liontrust GF European Smaller Companies Fund

May 2021 review

The Fund’s A5 share class returned 4.7%* in euro terms in May. This Fund’s target benchmark, the MSCI Europe Small Cap Index, returned 2.1%.

 

May saw further evidence of a rebound in economic activity and a rise in inflationary pressures, with investors choosing to attach more weight to the benefits of the economic recovery than the associated risk of monetary policy being tightened.

 

The European Commission upgraded its 2021 economic growth forecast for the euro area to 4.3% from 3.8% while the Bank of England upgraded its UK estimate to 7.25% from 5%.

 

Inflation is on the rise too though: in the US, a 4.2% year-on-year increase in CPI was more than expected and prompted further discussion around the removal of current ultra-accommodative monetary policy, in the US and worldwide.

 

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that rates may need to rise. However, minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s April policy-setting meeting suggested that, while some members would be open “at some point” to curtailing bond purchases if growth continues apace, there is no consensus yet on tightening.

 

A strong rise in European markets had a slight cyclical tilt to it, with consumer discretionary (+4.6%) and financials (+3.8%) the largest risers while utilities (+0.9%) and communications services (+1.2%) were among the laggards.

 

The Fund has a healthy weighting to the consumer discretionary sector, where gains were led by Danish jeweller Pandora (+18%). It beat consensus with its Q1 results. Organic sales were only down 3% on the 2019 pre-Covid level, despite 30% of stores being closed. Pandora commented that US sales were strong, supported by stimulus packages that have fuelled consumer demand. Due to this strong start to 2021, Pandora upgraded its full-year organic growth forecast to “above 12%” from “above 8%” and nudged operating profit guidance up to “above 22%” from “above 21%”.

 

4imprint Group (+24%) moved sharply higher after the direct marketing company referred to a substantial improvement in business momentum. An AGM trading update revealed order count over the three weeks to be around 85% of the 2019 comparable, up from 65% in January and February and 80% in April.

 

Impax Asset Management (+12%) extended its stellar share price performance as it released interim results for the period to 31 March. As already revealed in an April trading update, assets under management (AUM) have risen to £30bn, more than doubling their level of a year ago. This growth in assets dropped through to a 47% rise in revenues to £60m and a near-doubling of operating profit to £21m.

 

French caterer Elior Group (-6.2%) announced a 22% year-on-year drop in sales in the six months to 31 March 2021, as its operations continue to be heavily restricted by public health measures, such as work-from-home advice. While sales for its Health & Welfare division fell a relatively modest 7% and Education revenues slid 14%, its Business & Industry unit suffered a 42% tumble in sales. It expects this division to remain under pressure, with any easing of public health restrictions likely to be very gradual, predicting that no material recovery will take place until at least September. In the meantime, Elior will focus on tightly controlling operating costs.

 

Swedish pump manufacturer Concentric (-4.7%) found its recovery from last year hampered by supply chain issues. While Concentric estimates that its end markets’ activity levels were up by 18% quarter-on-quarter in Q1, its constant currency underlying sales growth was restricted to 10% as supply of raw materials struggled to keep pace. As a result, Concentric’s book-to-bill ratio rose to 141% from 102% in Q4. The company expects this order backlog to ease in Q2 as industry supply adjusts to meet rising demand.

 

Positive contributors to performance included:

4imprint Group (+24%), Pandora (+18%) and Impax Asset Management (+12%)

 

Negative contributors to performance included:

Elior Group (-6.2%), Concentric (-4.7%) and Atoss Software (-4.4%).

 

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

 

Mar-21

Mar-20

Mar-19

Mar-18

Liontrust GF European Smaller Companies A5 Acc EUR

69.9%

-21.8%

-2.6%

1.0%

MSCI Europe Small Cap Index

61.2%

-18.1%

-1.3%

8.3%

 

*Source: Financial Express, as at 31.05.21, total return (net of fees and income reinvested). Non fund-related return data sourced from Bloomberg.

 

**Source: Financial Express, as at 31.03.21, 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.

 

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. 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. The Liontrust European Growth Fund holds 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. The Liontrust Global Income Fund's expenses are charged to capital. This has the effect of increasing dividends while constraining capital appreciation. 

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, June 14, 2021, 9:45 AM