Bruce Stout, the long-standing lead fund manager of Murray International (LSE:MYI), will retire from fund management next June.
Stout, who has managed the trust since 2004, will pass the baton to co-managers Martin Connaghan and Samantha Fitzpatrick. The duo have worked with Stout for more than two decades.
The trust is one of interactive investor’s Super 60 investment ideas, which are selected and managed by our independent research partner Morningstar and reviewed by our in-house investment experts. As with other fund management retirements, our fund analysts will work with Morningstar to decide on which course of action to take.
David Hardie, chair of Murray International, said: “I am delighted to announce that Martin and Samantha will take on co-managerial responsibility for the company's investments alongside Bruce with immediate effect, thereby ensuring the smoothest of handovers and no change in abrdn's approach to the investment management of the company going forward. It is premature of me to thank Bruce for all his efforts on behalf of the company and I am sure that many of you will have the opportunity to do so personally in the run-up to his departure in just under a year's time.”
History shows that a change in a fund or investment trust’s lead manager can have a big impact, and that it can be for better or worse, so investors should always take note.
When, as in this case, it is a fund manager retiring rather than jumping ship to another fund firm, it is important to assess whether succession planning has been smooth.
Stout’s retirement was announced in Murray International’s half-year results to the end of June 2023 (released today on 11 August). The trust’s net asset value (NAV) rose by 2.2% over the six-month period, underperforming the FTSE All World Total Return Index gain of 7.9%. Over the period, Murray International’s share price total return showed a loss of 2.5%.
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Murray International has a higher yield than most other global equity income funds or investment trusts. Its current yield is 4.5%. Another difference is that around 40% of its assets are in shares listed in the Asia-Pacific and emerging market regions. Most other global equity income funds tend to mainly stick to developed markets.
Given current high inflation and a rising interest rate environment, the fund managers have been favouring stocks that own “real assets” and have pricing power.
Stout said in the half-year results that the trust “will continue to emphasise quality companies, maintain a diversified portfolio of both income and growth opportunities, and seek to avoid sectors, businesses and geographical areas where both secular and cyclical headwinds are deemed to be most hostile”.
He added: “The medium-term outlook poses numerous unfamiliar challenges for policymakers, politicians and investors alike, with uncertainty likely to be a constant companion. For many, the process of getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable has only just begun.”
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