Both investment trusts have reported results. Kyle Caldwell runs through the details.
Mobius Investment Trust
Mobius Investment Trust, a member of interactive investor’s Super 60, significantly outperformed the MSCI Emerging Markets Index in its latest financial year (to 30 November 2021).
While the index was up just over 1%, Mobius saw its net asset value (NAV) rise by 44.9% and its share price return 50%. The difference between the NAV and the share price was down to an increase in investor demand, which resulted in the trust moving from trading on a discount to a small premium in its financial year.
The trust is run by highly regarded managers Mark Mobius and Carlos von Hardenberg. The duo seek to identify resilient business models that are mispriced by the market. The trust invests in small and mid-cap companies.
In addition, the trust differentiates itself from most rival emerging market trusts by incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria in its investment philosophy. The trust, through a corporate governance approach, looks to team up with businesses that are open to positive change. In theory, by making ESG improvements, firms will improve their operational and financial performance.
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Maria Luisa Cicognani, chair of Mobius Investment Trust, attributed the outperformance to its “highly differentiated strategy with its focus on quality companies” alongside its ESG strategy.
Cicognani said: “The ESG focus of the strategy provided another layer of downside protection, and the investment managers' focus on businesses with robust governance and transparency, as well as the ongoing improvements corporations are reporting with regards to their ESG profile, is seen positively by the markets. Studies have shown that ESG leaders outperform, especially in emerging markets.”
Figures from Numis, the investment trust analyst, show that since IPO in October 2018, Mobius Investment Trust has delivered 43% on a NAV total return basis compared with 17% for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index and 24% for the MSCI Frontier Markets Index.
The trust is currently trading on a discount of 4%, which Numis described as “an attractive entry point”.
Alliance Trust fell short of its benchmark’s return for its financial year to 31 December. The global trust’s share price return was 16.5%, while its NAV return was 18.6%. Its benchmark – the MSCI All Country World Index – returned 19.6%.
Alliance Trust, which adopts a multi-manager approach that is overseen by Willis Towers Watson, said its performance was significantly ahead of its benchmark until the fourth quarter when the index returns became dominated by the performance of a few of the largest US technology companies.
As previously announced, the trust has hiked its annual dividend by 32.5% as its moves to return a higher amount of income to shareholders in future. The trust said it expects to continue extending its 55-year track record of increasing dividends.
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Since April 2017 when Willis Towers Watson took over the management, Alliance Trust’s NAV total return is 54.5% versus 58.2% for the benchmark, according to Numis.
Gregor Stewart, chair of Alliance Trust, said: “The board and Willis Towers Watson believes that as Omicron-variant related fears recede, and provided that longer-term fundamentals come back into focus, this will provide the environment for our portfolio to outperform.
“We have seen some evidence of this in early 2022 with the broadening of index returns. Willis Towers Watson believes that the domination of the market by so few companies is unlikely to persist over the longer term. This should provide further opportunities for our stock pickers and portfolio to deliver outperformance.”
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