Our columnist reports on his personal experience as a DIY investor over the past three months.
Europe’s worst war in more than half a century has destroyed human lives and wealth since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February. That caused share prices to plunge during the first quarter of this year and my modest portfolio proved no exception to the downward trend, with only four out of 20 investment trust shares managing to move upwards during the first quarter.
On a brighter note, the leader of the pack surged 31% higher during this dismal period, while the second-placed share in my ‘forever fund’ of investment trusts managed to advance by more than a fifth. Perhaps surprisingly, both focus on frontier or emerging markets.
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The biggest fallers
But let’s start with the bad news because I know that some of you enjoy my suffering more than my success. Not for the first time, the worst of a bad bunch was Schroder UK Public Private Trust (LSE:SUPP). It sits in the Association of Investment Companies (AIC) ‘Growth Capital’ sector but scarcely lived up to that title by turning £1,000 into just £728 during the first three months of this year, according to Morningstar.
SUPP is probably best-known for having been set up by the former so-called star fund manager Neil Woodford, when it was known as Woodford Patient Capital Trust or WPCT. Next week it will celebrate - if that is the word - its seventh anniversary since launch in April 2015, with the shares trading at about a quarter of their value back then.
To be candid, the only thing I got right with SUPP was never investing more than 1% of my life savings. It remains a 'forever fund' constituent largely because it serves as a reminder to avoid ‘star fund manager’ hype in future and also because this DIY investor always said I was investing on a 10-year view. At present, it looks like three more years of pain to go.
Next worst was JPMorgan Japan Small Cap Growth & Income (LSE:JSGI), which shrunk £1,000 into £777 during the first three months of 2022. It was followed by former high-flyer, Baillie Gifford Shin Nippon (LSE:BGS), another fund focused on smaller companies in the Land of the Rising Sun, which turned the same sum into £805.
Both suffered from falling confidence that Japan can reverse decades of disappointment when oil prices are rising, given it has little energy of its own. BGS may also have been hit by the fund manager’s distinctive style going out of fashion, because rising inflation and interest rates make ‘jam tomorrow’ stocks that aim for growth but pay low or no dividends look less appealing.
Other investment trusts in my forever fund that fell by more than 10% during the first quarter of 2022 were European Assets (LSE:EAT); India Capital Growth (LSE:IGC); JPMorgan Mid Cap (LSE:JMF); JPMorgan US Smaller Companies (LSE:JUSC); and another former high-flyer, Polar Capital Technology (LSE:PCT). Ouch!
However, Annabel Brodie-Smith, a director of the AIC, helped me keep a sense of perspective: “It’s been a difficult start to the year for markets with the horrific war in Ukraine and inflation rising.
“Consequently, a £1,000 investment in the average investment company at the start of the year would be down 7% to £929 by the end of March.
“But it’s important to remember that investing is for the long term and investment company returns are positive over time. A £1,000 investment in the average investment company invested five years ago would now be worth £1,592 and the same amount invested 10 years ago would be worth £3,126.”
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The four trusts that weathered the storm
Even during the last difficult quarter, a diversified global portfolio delivered some winners amid the smoke of war. Step forward ship-leasing specialist, Tufton Oceanic Assets (LSE:SHIP), which managed to remain afloat with a marginally positive return of £1,004 during this storm-lashed quarter. I first invested at $1.21 in August last year and SHIP traded at $1.36 this week, while yielding nearly 6% dividend income.
Next best was Ecofin Global Utilities & Infrastructure (LSE:EGL) where exposure to wind and solar energy helped transform £1,000 into £1,126 by the end of the first quarter. Once again, positive capital returns are enhanced with a healthy dividend yield; currently 3.3%.
Second-best during this quarter, Gulf Investment Fund (LSE:GIF) turned the same starting sum into £1,215. Sanctions on Russia and Iran - the world’s biggest and second-largest sources of liquefied natural gas (LNG) - focused attention on its third largest source; Qatar in the Persian Gulf, which is GIF’s top country allocation. I first invested on 11 February, when I paid $1.86 for shares that cost $2.34 this week.
My top performer during this difficult quarter was BlackRock Latin American (LSE:BRLA), which turned £1,000 into £1,316. Rising demand for commodities - such as the iron ore supplied by BRLA’s top holding, the miner Vale - helped turn this long-term underperformer into the leader of the pack.
Every dog will have its day but whether this one has further to run remains to be seen. In the meantime, BRLA’s dividend yield of 4.7% pays me to be patient.
|Holding||Ticker||Sector* or industry|
|adidas AG||XETRA:ADS||Consumer discretionary|
|Archer-Daniels Midland Co||NYSE:ADM||Agriculture commodities|
|Baillie Gifford Shin Nippon Ord||LSE:BGS||* AIC Japanese Smaller Companies|
|BHP Group||LSE:BHP||Basic materials|
|BlackRock Latin American Ord||LSE:BRLA||* AIC Latin America|
|Canadian General Investments||LSE:CGI||* AIC North America|
|Chapel Down Group||CDGP**||Beverages|
|Deere & Co||NYSE:DE||Agricultural equipment|
|European Assets Ord||LSE:EAT||* AIC European Smaller Companies|
|Ecofin Global Utilities & Infra Ord||LSE:EGL||* AIC Infrastructure Securities|
|Exxon Mobil||NYSE:XOM||Oil and gas|
|Fuller Smith & Turner A||LSE:FSTA||Food and beverages|
|Gore Street Energy||LSE: GSF||*AIC Renewable Energy Infrastructure|
|Givaudan SA||SIX:GIVN||Basic materials|
|Gulf Investment Fund||LSE: GIF||* AIC Global Emerging Markets|
|Helium One Global||LSE:HE1||Basic materials|
|India Capital Growth Ord||LSE:IGC||* AIC India|
|International Biotechnology Ord||LSE:IBT||* AIC Biotechnology & Healthcare|
|JPMorgan Indian Ord||LSE:JII||* AIC India|
|JPMorgan Japan Small Cap Growth & Income||LSE:JSGI||* AIC Japanese Smaller Companies|
|JPMorgan Mid Cap Ord||LSE:JMF||* AIC UK All Companies|
|JPMorgan US Smaller Companies Ord||LSE:JUSC||* AIC North American Smaller Companies|
|Mitchells & Butlers||LSE: MAB||Restaurant and pubs|
|Nestle||SIX:NESN||Food and beverages|
|Nintendo||NTDOY||Interactive home entertainment|
|Northern 2 VCT Ord||LSE:NTV||* AIC VCT Generalist|
|Polar Capital Technology Ord||LSE:PCT||* AIC Technology & Media|
|Reckitt Benckiser||LSE:RKT||Personal and household goods|
|Schroder UK Public Private Trust Ord||LSE:SUPP||* AIC Growth Capital|
|Smith & Nephew||LSE:SN||Healthcare|
|Tufton Oceanic Assets||LSE:SHIP||* AIC Leasing|
|Unilever||LSE:ULVR||Food, personal and household goods|
|US Solar Fund Ord||LSE:USF||* AIC Renewable Energy Infrastructure|
|Vietnam Enterprise Investments Limited||LSE:VEIL||* AIC Country Specialist|
|Worldwide Healthcare Ord||LSE:WWH||* AIC Biotechnology & Healthcare|
* AIC stands for Association of Investment Companies.
**available to trade on the ii platform under the ticker CDGP.
This is a complete list of Ian Cowie’s stock market investments as of 14 April 2022. It is not financial advice nor is any recommendation implied. Share prices can fall without warning and you might get back less than you invest.
Ian Cowie is a freelance contributor and not a direct employee of interactive investor.
Ian Cowie owns shares in Baillie Gifford Shin Nippon (BGS); BlackRock Latin American (BRLA); Ecofin Global Utilities & Infrastructure (EGL); European Assets Trust (EAT); Gulf Investment Fund (GIF) India Capital Growth (IGC); JPMorgan Japan Small Cap Growth & Income (JSGI); JPMorgan Mid Cap (JMF); JPMorgan US Smaller Companies (JUSC); Polar Capital Trust (PCT); Schroder UK Public Private (SUPP) and Tufton Oceanic Assets (SHIP) as part of a globally diversified portfolio of investment trusts and other shares.
These articles are provided for information purposes only. Occasionally, an opinion about whether to buy or sell a specific investment may be provided by third parties. The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.
Full performance can be found on the company or index summary page on the interactive investor website. Simply click on the company's or index name highlighted in the article.