Liontrust UK Growth Fund

April 2021 review

The Liontrust UK Growth Fund returned 4.2%* in April. The FTSE All-Share Index comparator benchmark returned 4.3% and the average return in the IA UK All Companies sector, also a comparator benchmark, was 4.2%.

 

Ongoing positive sentiment towards the vaccine effort and related economic recovery supported more broad-based market gains in April. The FTSE 100 large-cap index returned 4.1%, the FTSE 250 mid-caps gained 4.9% and the FTSE Small Cap Index registered a 5.3% return.

 

Signs of increasing economic confidence were apparent in macro releases such as March UK retail sales. This showed a 5.4% increase on February, ahead of the 1.5% consensus forecast, and 7.2% above March 2020’s level.

 

Across the market, a range of companies also pointed to improving demand from end markets. For the Fund, one of the holdings displaying exposure to this trend in April was PageGroup (+19%). The recruitment company’s Q1 trading update provided investors with some encouraging signs over the trajectory of economic recovery. While PageGroup saw 2% year-on-year growth in gross profit, it is the comparison with pre-Covid levels two years ago that is more revealing. Gross profits are down 10% on Q1 2019, but a significant pickup in activity in March meant that it exited the quarter at a run rate only 2% lower than 2019 (and 30% better than 2020).

 

Engineering group IMI (+21%) also pleased the market with details of trading. The first quarter of the year was sufficiently strong for it to upgrade full-year guidance. IMI has seen improving trends in its major end markets, pushing sales, profits and cash flows above not only 2020 levels, but also those achieved pre-pandemic in 2019. Its new earnings per share guidance for 2021 is 81p – 87p, up from 75p to 82p.

 

Domino’s Pizza Group (+13%) recorded 19% year-on-year sales growth in Q1, a comparison that isn’t flattered by any negative Covid-19 impact in 2020, as Domino’s trading has been largely unscathed by the pandemic. Earlier in the year it noted that the new year period delivered its highest ever weekly sales figure. It also recently announced the disposals of its operations in Sweden and Iceland, as it further consolidates its focus on the UK market.

 

Next Fifteen Communications (+29%) slipped to a pre-tax loss in the year to 31 January 2021 due mainly to over £36m in one-off costs related to acquisitions during the year. Adjusting for these, operating profit rose 21% to £50m following revenue growth of 7% to £267m. The shares were given impetus by an upbeat outlook section commenting that trading in the new year has been ahead of management’s expectations.

 

An interim update from translation and IP support services group RWS Holdings (+13%) revealed trading that was in line with its forecasts, but shares in the company moved higher on the back of a significant upgrade to expected cost synergies from its SDL acquisition, which more than doubled from £15m to £32m.

 

Indivior (+20%) recorded an 18% year-on-year sales increase in Q1, driven by strong growth in its Sublocade injection treatment and a stable market share for its generic-challenged Suboxone film. The company’s 2021 financial guidance is unchanged.

 

Among the Fund’s April detractors, asset manager Brooks Macdonald (-4.9%) gave up some ground following the gains that accompanied last month’s interims, British American Tobacco (-3.3%) slid on reports of US curbs on nicotine levels and Royal Dutch Shell (-2.7%) edged lower as investors found little within Q1 results to give short-term momentum to extend its 40%+ rally since the start of November.

 

Positive contributors included:

Next Fifteen Communications (+29%), IMI (+21%), Indivior (+20%), PageGroup (+19%) and Domino’s Pizza Group (+13%).

 

Negative contributors included:

Brooks Macdonald Group (-4.9%), WM Morrison Supermarkets (-4.7%), British American Tobacco (-3.3%), Royal Dutch Shell (-2.7%) and Renishaw (-2.3%).

 

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

 

Mar-21

Mar-20

Mar-19

Mar-18

Mar-17

Liontrust UK Growth I Inc

22.6%

-14.0%

7.2%

2.6%

23.2%

FTSE All Share

26.7%

-18.5%

6.4%

1.2%

22.0%

IA UK All Companies

38.0%

-19.2%

2.9%

2.7%

17.9%

Quartile

4

1

1

2

1

 

*Source: Financial Express, as at 30.04.21, 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 31.03.21, 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.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021, 4:06 PM