Witan Investment Trust has announced results for the six months ended 30 June 2016. During the first half of 2016, the Company’s net asset value total return was +6.4% compared with a benchmark return of +7.7% – reflecting underperformance of 1.3%. Excluding changes in the fair value of the Company’s debt, the NAV total return was +7.5%. The share price total return was -2.4%, as Witan’s shares moved to a discount of 8.5% from one of 0.2% at the end of 2015. The Company bought back 14.4m of its shares on 27 May at a 6.5% discount to NAV and has continued to buy back during the volatile conditions before and after the EU referendum The Company believes that when market conditions normalise the recent discount widening should begin to reverse and will continue to use its buyback authority to add value for shareholders. A second interim quarterly dividend of 4.25p per ordinary share will be paid in September. Total dividends paid in respect of the period are 8.5p per ordinary share (2015: 7.7p).
Ben Rogoff, Portfolio Manager of the Polar Capital Technology Trust plc, will join the Witan Board as a non-Executive Director with effect from October 2016. Harry Henderson, the chairman, says the disruptive impact of technology has increased the importance of understanding these trends and assessing how Witan’s investment managers factor them into the construction of their portfolios. He believes Ben’s 18 year experience in the technology sector, in addition to knowledge of the investment trust sector, will be very helpful in this regard
The chairman says the difficult conditions for active managers during the period were reflected in six of Witan’s external managers underperforming their benchmarks during the period, with returns ranging from -2.7% to +5.1%. Landsdowne Partners, managers of a global portfolio for Witan, had a particularly difficult period, returning -0.1% against a benchmark return of 13.9%. Four of their external managers, as well as the direct holdings portfolio outperformed their benchmarks, achieving total returns of over 10%.
WTAN : Ben Rogoff joins Witan’s board