Investment Companies Roundup

Kindly sponsored by Baillie Gifford and Aberdeen Standard Investments

 Table of contents 

 New research

Here is a list of research we published over June:

CQS New City High Yield – Sitting pretty

“With one small exception, all of CQS New City High Yield’s (NCYF) holdings have met their obligations in full (no missed interest payments and no failures to repay loans when they fall due). Should economies continue to re-open, this suggests that there remains significant capital appreciation potential on top of the attractive yield (9.4%) the fund currently offers.”

Ecofin Global Utilities and Infrastructure Trust – Resilient income

“Investors in search of income have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. Bond yields and interest rates have tumbled, and dividend cuts have proliferated. By contrast, the companies in Ecofin Global Utilities and Infrastructure Trust’s (EGL’s) portfolio have proved relatively resilient.”

The North American Income Trust – Purest access to US equity income

“Though share buybacks have ceased, regulators in the US have not banned bank distributions in the way that they have elsewhere, while healthcare, The North American Income Trust’s (NAIT) other major exposure, is holding up very well. NAIT provides the purest access to North American income – its closest peer, BlackRock North American Income, allocates over 20% to Europe.”

The North American Income Trust - Time to grow?

BlackRock Throgmorton Trust – Separating the wheat from the chaff

“COVID-19-related falls in markets have weighed on BlackRock Throgmorton Trust (THRG), although it has held up well relative to both its peer group and its benchmark. Its manager sees this as a defining moment for investors – one that could set the stage for many years to come.”

CQS Natural Resources Growth and Income – Recovery on-hold, hold on

“China and the rest of Asia is tentatively emerging from lockdown. While a ‘V’-shaped recovery for the economy looks unlikely, the market is looking through this shock already, whilst the long-term fundamentals that support commodities remain intact. We explore this in our latest note on CQS Natural Resources Growth and Income (CYN).”

GCP Infrastructure – Rebased dividend

“GCP Infrastructure will be 10 years old in a few weeks. The yield premium that GCP delivers relative to UK government debt securities has increased significantly over the past decade.”

 Performance data

The median total share price return from investment companies was 2.8% (it was 3.1% in May) – year-to-date they are still down (11.5%). Perceived value was found in Latin American and sectors such as structured debt, which have been amongst the worst affected, UK property funds and the private equity sector had difficult months, once again.

Please refer to the ‘appendix’ section for a comprehensive list of sector-specific performance. Readers interested in the most recent briefings from the industry can click here to access our economic and political roundup.

Best performing sectors over June:

wdt_ID Sector Median share price total return (%) Median NAV total return (%) Change in median discount (%) Median discount 30/06/20 (%) Median discount 31/05/20 (%) Number of companies in the sector Median sector market cap 30/06/20 (£m)
1 Debt - Structured Finance 11.10 0.10 9.60 -8.70 -18.30 7 153.00
2 Latin America 9.40 5.40 3.10 -10.20 -13.40 2 81.00
3 Asia Pacific 9.10 9.10 0.40 -8.80 -9.10 8 305.00
4 Technology & Media 7.80 7.70 0.10 -0.10 -0.10 2 1,832.00
5 Global Emerging Markets 7.70 6.50 2.30 -11.10 -13.40 16 233.00

The two constituents of the technology & media sector, Allianz Technology and Polar Capital Technology, had another good month – extending the sector’s lead, as the year’s best performer to date (see ‘Appendix 1’). The ongoing re-opening of economies across the Asia Pacific region, is being met with greater flows into regional and country-specific strategies.

Worst performing sectors over June:

wdt_ID Fund Median share price total return (%) Median NAV total return (%) Change in median discount (%) Median discount 30/06/20 (%) Median discount 31/05/20 (%) Number of companies in the sector Median sector market cap 30/06/20 (£m)
1 Property - UK Residential -2.50 0.00 -4.90 -15.90 -11.00 7 368
2 Property - UK Commercial -1.10 0.00 -3.50 -32.40 -28.90 17 277
3 UK Equity & Bond Income -1.00 0.50 -1.50 -11.00 -9.50 2 112
4 Growth Capital -0.40 0.00 -3.20 -19.70 -16.50 4 309
5 Private Equity 0.40 0.00 3.00 -32.30 -35.30 22 184

June’s biggest movers in NAV and price terms are shown in the charts below:

On the positive side:

  • Golden Prospect Precious Metals’ performance reflects the renewed popularity of gold as a hedge. In both price and NAV terms, the trust has been the best performing investment company, over the first half of the year (YTD)
  • Crystal Amber led share price returns in June, after an investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, into De La Rue, one of the fund’s largest holdings, was ended
  • The continued reopening of the Chinese economy, is benefitting Fidelity China Special Situations, JPMorgan China Growth & Income and Pacific Horizon
  • Flows into export-oriented South Korea picked up, benefitting Weiss Korea Opportunity. South Korea has also been comparatively much less affected by the pandemic
  • Scottish Mortgage is having a stellar year, with its shares and NAV both up by more than 40%. The fund continued to trim its allocation to older tech giants, like Alphabet and Facebook, over June
  • Even after this month’s rise, Amedeo Air Four Plus’s shares are still down over 50%, YTD. The company leases four A350 aircraft to Thai Airways, which is going through a major debt restructuring
  • Structured debt companies, Blackstone/GSO Loan Financing and Fair Oaks Income 2017, had better months. The pandemic has been acutely felt by those debt funds with exposure to collateralised loan obligations (CLOs). These funds tend to invest in instruments that bear the first losses but get paid high rates of interest
  • Loan fund, Axiom European Financial Debt, has been one of the most resilient funds in its sector

On the negative side:

  • Geiger Counter’s NAV led declines, though its premium widened, as its share price did not react much. Production cuts have been pushing the uranium price higher, this year
  • Property strategies filled up many of the slots in these tables, once more, led by BMO Commercial Property. Its office and retail portfolio has been under pressure, pushing its discount to over 50%
  • Schroder Real Estate has been similarly impacted, with its price performance and the movement in its discount, mirroring BMO Commercial Property, over the YTD
  • The prospect of far fewer higher education international students and the implication of socially distanced learning next year, continued to weigh down GCP Student Living
  • Declines in Schroder UK Public Private and Augmentum Fintech followed very strong performances over May
  • Private equity sector company, ICG Enterprise, reported quarterly NAV numbers over June. The sector has been underperforming, reflecting what is expected to be a considerable slowing in distributions and the prospect of falling NAVs once investments are repriced
  • The gearing within split capital trusts, Chelverton UK Dividend and Aberforth Split Level Income, has been amplifying NAV declines. They have been among the worst performers over the YTD

Return to top

 Discounts and premiums

The tables below shows the top five movers in either direction (more or less expensive relative to NAV):

More expensive relative to NAV:

wdt_ID Fund 30 Jun (%) 31 May (%)
1 Crystal Amber -1.90 -35.50
2 Syncona 32.50 9.70
3 Fair Oaks Income 2017 -0.70 -18.30
4 Blackstone/GSO Loan Financing -13.60 -29.10
5 RTW Venture 18.00 2.90
6 Riverstone Energy -12.80 -25.90
7 Axiom European Financial Debt -0.70 -13.50
8 JPMorgan Brazil -9.40 -21.50
9 Alpha Real Trust -20.60 -31.60
10 UIL -36.20 -46.50
  • Crystal Amber’s discount narrowed sharply, as discussed above. There is a built-in lag, as it reports NAV on a monthly basis
  • Syncona’s shares climbed sharply higher in the last week of June, after raising additional capital for its Freeline holding, at a higher value
  • Riverstone Energy’s NAV is down by considerably more than its shares over the YTD. A higher oil price has allowed the shares to more than double from their March trough
  • JPMorgan Brazil was one of June’s best performers, in price terms. The Bovespa Index had its best quarter since 2003, in spite of Brazil being amongst the worst affected countries, by the pandemic. Weakness in the sovereign bond market is said to have pushed domestic investors back into stocks

Cheaper relative to NAV:

wdt_ID Fund 30 Jun (%) 31 May (%)
1 BMO Commercial Property -49.30 -35.60
2 Schroder Real Estate -49.30 -37.40
3 CC Japan Income & Growth -14.90 -6.00
4 GCP Student Living -27.00 -18.50
5 Majedie -19.60 -11.20
6 Invesco Perpetual UK Smaller Cos -16.80 -8.80
7 Schroder UK Public Private -44.70 -36.90
8 Standard Life Inv. Property Income -26.90 -19.30
9 Life Settlement Assets A -9.10 -2.20
10 Henderson International Income -3.10 3.50
  • BMO Commercial Property and Schroder Real Estate were discussed in the last section
  • Standard Life Investments Property Income was similarly affected
  • CC Japan Income & Growth has bucked the trend in what has otherwise been a resilient year for Japanese equities. The trust has a relatively high exposure to the industrials sector (close to 30% of the portfolio)
  • Majedie was the worst performing fund in the global sector, over the first half of the year, in both NAV and price terms. Its ‘value’ style is firmly out of favour
  • Schroder UK Public Private’s discount widened despite its largest investment Rutherford Health announcing plans to create a network of world-class clinical trial sites for the development of new cancer treatments

Return to top

 Money in and out

Fundraising highlights from the month:

Money coming in:

Money going out:

Return to top

 Major news stories

Portfolio developments:

Corporate news:

Managers and fees:


Return to top


The following funds announced their full-year results (and accompanying dividends) over June (please refer to the attached PDF document for a list of the notes around the numbers):

wdt_ID Fund Year ended Dividend (pence)* Change over year (%) Revenue/earnings (pence)* Cover
1 Aberdeen Japan 31 Mar 2020 15.00 177.80 8.10 0.54x
2 Baillie Gifford UK Growth 30 Apr 2020 3.10 5.10 3.80 1.23x
3 BlackRock Smaller Companies 29 Feb 2020 32.50 4.20 37.10 1.14x
4 BMO Global Smaller Companies 30 Apr 2020 1.70 3.00 1.70 1x
5 Edinburgh 31 Mar 2020 28.70 2.30 27.80 0.97x
6 Gresham House Strategic 31 Mar 2020 22.90 15.00 -174.30 N/A
7 JLEN Environmental Assets 31 Mar 2020 6.70 2.30 -2.10 N/A
8 JPMorgan Euro. Smaller Companies 31 Mar 2020 6.70 0.00 6.80 1.01x
9 JPMorgan Global Core Real Assets 29 Feb 2020 1.50 0.00 -2.80 N/A
10 JPMorgan Japan Smaller Companies 31 Mar 2020 17.70 -1.70 0.80 0.05x

Return to top


Here is a selection of upcoming events:

Covid-19 – Impact on Markets – 20 July 2020

Master Investor – the UKs largest private investor show – 5 December 2020


Our Independent Guide to quoted investment companies is an invaluable tool for anyone who wants to brush up on their knowledge of the investment companies’ sector.

 Appendix – June performance by sector

wdt_ID Sector Share price total return YTD*(%) NAV total return YTD* (%) Share price total return June (%) NAV total return, June (%) Change in discount (%) Discount 30-06-2020 (%) Discount 31/05/20 (%) Market cap 30/06/20 (%)
1 Technology & Media 32.60 33.10 7.80 7.70 0.10 -0.10 -0.10 1,832.00
2 Insurance & Reinsurance Strategies 20.10 6.00 -7.10 0.10 -14.20 -21.20 -7.00 46.00
3 Biotechnology & Healthcare 16.00 16.00 1.90 1.50 -0.70 -1.30 -0.60 488.00
4 Royalties 8.00 19.70 7.90 0.00 7.40 0.50 -6.90 714.00
5 Hedge Funds 5.80 8.70 2.60 0.10 -2.10 -21.20 -19.10 78.00
6 Growth Capital 5.50 1.40 -0.40 0.00 -3.20 -19.70 -16.50 309.00
7 Global Smaller Companies 3.80 7.90 1.20 1.50 -0.90 -10.70 -9.80 860.00
8 Japanese Smaller Companies 0.70 5.10 0.50 1.50 0.00 -6.20 -6.20 121.00
9 Infrastructure 0.00 2.40 1.40 0.00 5.20 14.30 9.00 1,721.00
10 Liquidity Funds -0.10 0.60 0.20 0.30 -0.10 -1.90 -1.80 4.00

 The legal bit

This note was prepared by Marten & Co (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority).

This note is for information purposes only and is not intended to encourage the reader to deal in the security or securities mentioned within it.

Marten & Co is not authorised to give advice to retail clients. The note does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and needs of any specific person who may receive it.

This note has been compiled from publicly available information. This note is not directed at any person in any jurisdiction where (by reason of that person’s nationality, residence or otherwise) the publication or availability of this note is prohibited.

Accuracy of Content: Whilst Marten & Co uses reasonable efforts to obtain information from sources which we believe to be reliable and to ensure that the information in this note is up to date and accurate, we make no representation or warranty that the information contained in this note is accurate, reliable or complete. The information contained in this note is provided by Marten & Co for personal use and information purposes generally. You are solely liable for any use you may make of this information. The information is inherently subject to change without notice and may become outdated. You, therefore, should verify any information obtained from this note before you use it.

No Advice: Nothing contained in this note constitutes or should be construed to constitute investment, legal, tax or other advice.

No Representation or Warranty: No representation, warranty or guarantee of any kind, express or implied is given by Marten & Co in respect of any information contained on this note.

Exclusion of Liability: To the fullest extent allowed by law, Marten & Co shall not be liable for any direct or indirect losses, damages, costs or expenses incurred or suffered by you arising out or in connection with the access to, use of or reliance on any information contained on this note. In no circumstance shall Marten & Co and its employees have any liability for consequential or special damages.

Governing Law and Jurisdiction: These terms and conditions and all matters connected with them, are governed by the laws of England and Wales and shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts. If you access this note from outside the UK, you are responsible for ensuring compliance with any local laws relating to access.

No information contained in this note shall form the basis of, or be relied upon in connection with, any offer or commitment whatsoever in any jurisdiction.

Investment Performance Information: Please remember that past performance is not necessarily a guide to the future and that the value of shares and the income from them can go down as well as up. Exchange rates may also cause the value of underlying overseas investments to go down as well as up. Marten & Co may write on companies that use gearing in a number of forms that can increase volatility and, in some cases, to a complete loss of an investment.