Sterling movements continue to drive returns for UK investors. Since our last posting towards the end of September, the FTSE 100 has moved steadily upward, remaining above 7500 since 10 October and closing at a new record high of 7556 on 12 October – boosted by falls in the pound against the dollar, as Brexit talks remain stuck in deadlock.
The end of September, however, saw a meaty 5% rise for sterling against the yen, while it was up 3% against the dollar and euro, after the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, indicated that an increase in the bank base rate may be imminent.
The prospect of a UK rate rise by the end of the year – the first in a decade – remains on the table despite the fact that data was released by the Office for National Statistics showing the UK economy has grown by just 1.5% over the year since the Brexit vote. That is the slowest pace for four years.
‘In spite of all the worries about Brexit, the political leaders on either side of the Atlantic, the length of the current bull market, the valuations of equity markets, the outlook for interest rates, and the tapering and end of QE, global equity markets have actually been progressing quite steadily,’ says Andrew McHattie in the Investment Trust Newsletter.
‘Both US and UK markets are at or close to all-time highs, and Japan is at a 21-year peak. Yet valuations do not generally seem massively stretched, nor is there any sense of excessive exuberance to signal an end to the bull run.’
September’s trust performance The top investment trust performers for September are quite a diverse collection; McHattie’s table looks like this:
Dunedin Enterprise +17.94% Symphony International +16.03% Phoenix Spree Deutschland +13.14% Syncona +13.13% Pantheon International (Redeemable) +11.61% North American Income Trust +9.67% Miton Global Opportunities +9.59% Livermore Investments +9.47% Edinburgh Worldwide +9.08% Fidelity China Special Situations +8.64%
Private equity makes a strong showing, with Dunedin, Asian-focused Symphony and Pantheon International all producing double-digit share price returns. But it’s also interesting to see some of the better-known names producing spectacular one-month performances. Global small cap trust Edinburgh Worldwide is on a roll, with one-year returns of over 40%, yet still trading at a discount of more than 4%.
Meanwhile Fidelity China Special Situations’ 14% discount was picked up by Money Observer’s Investment Trust Bargain Hunter in late September; since then the discount has narrowed to 12%.
Despite these strong showings, every investment trust sector except one specialist VCT category lost money over the month, and investment trusts underperformed the FTSE All-share, losing 1.2% compared to the market’s 0.4%. But as broker Winterflood observed, trusts have outperformed the wider market in nine of the past 12 months and are ahead by more than 50% (up 12.8% to the market’s 7.8%) over the year as a whole.
September’s fund performance On the investment fund side, investors generally had an uninspiring month in September, with all but three fund sectors – North American Smaller Companies, UK Smaller Companies and Sterling High Yield – in negative territory; even the three that showed gains were up by less than 1%.
At the bottom of the sector table, Global Emerging Markets funds lost 4.2% on average, and Asia Pacific ex Japan funds 3.9%.
Among individual funds, the top 10 performances were delivered by the following:
MFM Junior Oils +6.17% Investec Global Energy +6% VT Cape Wrath Focus +5.87% Neptune Japan Opps +5.55% Artemis Global Energy +5.37% CFP UK Buffettology Inst +4.24% Legg Mason Royce US Sm Cos +3.74% VT De Lisle America +3.73% Natixis H2O Multi Returns +3.61% JPM Global Macro +3.53%
The energy and oil funds were driven onwards by a two-year high in the oil price. ‘Two of the energy funds, MFM Junior Oils and Artemis Global Energy, concentrate on the smaller stocks in the universe,’ adds Yearsley.
‘Another fund to hit the top ten was Neptune Japan Opportunities – buoyed by a strong gain for the Topix and fund manager Chris Taylor’s ongoing short on the yen.’
Interestingly, stock pickers in the American market are also still delivering chart-topping returns, on the back of strengthening US economic growth.
Looking over the third quarter of the year, the tables were topped by funds with a focus on a handful of emerging market countries, as well as UK, Europe and Japan smaller companies funds.
Third quarter winners and losers Over the third quarter the five best-performing Investment Association fund sectors, according to FE Trustnet, look like this:
China/Greater China 7.3% UK Smaller Cos 5.4% European Smaller Cos 4.9% Japanese Smaller Cos 4.1% Global Emerging Markets 4.0%
The worst-performing sectors were IA UK Index Linked Gilts (down 4.36 per cent), followed by IA UK Gilts (down 2.79 per cent).
‘The third quarter was a challenging time for UK fixed income investors after higher inflation numbers and a more hawkish tone from the Bank of England prompted gilt yields to rise,’ said Gary Jackson of Trustnet.
IA Global Bonds funds were also down as fixed income markets priced in the possibility of a December interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve and plans for the central bank to start unwinding its massive quantitative easing programme.
New recommendations from Numis Broker Numis has made some changes to its recommended list with the addition of three investment trusts focusing on alternative investments, which are a great way to reduce portfolio risk through diversification. The broker seeks ‘to identify relative value opportunities at a time when value is hard to find’.
P2P Global Investments (20% discount) invests in alternative finance and is housed in the IT Debt sector. It is a re-entry to the list after its share price fell 10% in Q3. Electra Private Equity (17%) has half of its portfolio in cash and the results of the Board’s strategic review are due shortly. ICG Enterprise (19%), another private equity trust, has undergone a management change; it has just announced strong interim results and Numis believes the fund’s move to ICG has been positive.
Ethical opportunities Finally, 8 October saw the start of Good Money Week.
Funds under management in ethical funds represent just 1.2% of the industry; yet as Juliet Schooling Latter, director of FundCalibre, commented: “This is despite continued strong performance. As Moneyfacts.co.uk pointed out recently, over one, three and five years, ethical funds have outperformed their non-ethical rivals.’
Schooling Latter suggested three funds that could deliver profit and principles:
Edentree Amity UK ‘As pioneers of responsible investing, EdenTree offers even the most discerning client a justifiable investment opportunity. The Amity UK fund invests in a large number of smaller companies, making it different from many of its peers.’
Rathbone Ethical Bond ‘This fund invests in quality investment grade bonds. It has a higher income target than most of its peers and ethical exclusions are simple: no mining, arms, gambling, pornography, animal testing, nuclear power, alcohol or tobacco, which rules out about one third of the index. All investments must also have at least one positive environmental, social or corporate governance quality.’
Standard Life Investments UK Ethical This fund encapsulates the best ideas from the experienced team at Standard Life Investments, which manager Lesley Duncan uses alongside a ‘no compromises’ ethical screening.’
Ethical IFA Castlefield meanwhile published a ‘winners’ and ‘spinners’ report highlighting funds that really practise what they preach, and those that don’t. Olivia Bowen, partner at Castlefield, says of the ‘spinners’: ‘Some of these funds give ethical and sustainable investing a bad name and are in danger of watering down the meaning of responsible investment.’
1. WHEB Sustainability Castlefield praises its good performance with 12.5 per cent returns over one year, 51 per cent over three years and 99.3 per cent over five years. It commends the fund’s transparency in revealing all its holdings and engaging investors. The fund is also trailblazing the measurement of its investments’ impacts in clear terms.
2. Liontrust UK Ethical This fund was selected for its strong performance and for providing high-quality transparent information to investors. It returned 18.1 per cent over one year, 44 per cent over three years and 90.1 per cent over five years. It invests in companies that aim to improve people’s lives through medical, technological or educational advances; improving resource efficiency; and helping to build a more stable, resilient and prosperous economy.
3. Rathbone Ethical Bond This fixed income fund is praised for its strict screening and great performance. It returned 6.5 per cent over one year, 20.5 per cent over three years and 43.8 per cent over five years. In addition to the negative screen, the fund applies a positive screen to identify companies with well-developed policies in corporate community investment, employment, human rights, environmental impacts and provision of beneficial products and services.
1. Vanguard SRI European Stock Castlefield points out that the top holdings include British American Tobacco and Royal Dutch Shell.
John Eckersley of Castlefield adds: ‘Despite passive fund providers recognising the demand for SRI from their own commercial perspective, to deliver a thoughtful fund in this area requires active effort, experience and expertise, and there’s no cheap shortcut to that.’
2. Aberdeen Ethical World One of the largest holdings of this fund is shale oil extractor EOG resources. The nature of this fund is a concern in itself, but Castlefield says it has also ‘faced accusations of illegal burying of waste’.
3. Friends Life Stewardship This fund, managed by Schroders, counts mining company Rio Tinto as one of its top holdings. In addition to many environmental concerns and incidents, Rio Tinto ‘has a history of abuse of workers and indigenous peoples.’
Completely Revamped Art Basel in Miami Beach Sees Upswing in Early Sales
By Anna Louie Sussman
Dec 6, 2017 10:00 pm
Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.
What happens when you take dozens of the world’s most important collectors, line them up on an 82-degree day in Miami’s famous sunshine outside of a convention center that’s mid-renovation, and change up the layout so their favorite dealers aren’t where they last saw them?
Turns out, they still buy art.
The 16th edition ofArt Basel in Miami Beachopened on Wednesday morning to VIP guests with a newly renovated interior that adds 10% more space to the Miami Beach convention center and a complete reshuffle of every gallery on the map. The new layout offers dealers more room to spread out their wares, and gives visitors wider halls to walk along and a pair of large plant-filled plazas in which to sit, talk, or even exercise: In one, a fairgoer in bright purple sneakers sat doing his morning stretches. But the changes meant some people were a bit spun around, players in an art-fair game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.
Installation view of David Zwirner’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.
“I think people are having a hard time finding what they used to find, and there were some complaints about getting in as it was quite a long wait,” saidDavid Zwirner, who had a booth near the entrance where VIPs picked up their passes. “But once people are in here I think they’re very happy.”
Zwirner adjusted to the new layout and the delayed entry by updating his normal rules: Instead of the typical one-hour window he allows for collectors in Miami to decide whether to pull the trigger, they were given two to locate his booth, see the works in person, and make a decision. At 12:15, just over an hour into the fair, he lacked his usual ebullience. But an hour later, the cloud had lifted, and he reeled off something like a dozen sales (a large share of them to Americans, he said) in one breath.
They included aNeo Rauchpainting that went for $1.2 million,Josef Albers’s redHomage to the Square(1957) for an undisclosed sum, aYayoi Kusamapainting,Standing at the Flower Bed(2013) for $1 million, aFranz Westsculpture for $800,000, aDonald Juddsculpture for $850,000, aBrice Mardenfor $700,000, and three works byWolfgang Tillmans(Central Nervous System, 2013;river bed, 2017; andmoonrise October, 2017) for $95,000 each.
Installation view of Lehmann Maupin’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.
As we know in the art world, appearance is (kind of) everything. The cosmetic changes were largely applauded by dealers, especially those with booths on the east side of the convention center, closest to the entrances. David Maupin of New York- and Hong Kong-based galleryLehmann Maupinsaid the changes had gotten rid of visual disruptions like electrical boxes, making the fair “much smoother, more elegant.”
“It’s much more comprehensible to the visitor,” Maupin said. “The new layout is definitely an improvement.”
His booth, on the east side of the building, was buzzing with collectors on Wednesday, and he called it a “great day,” with an improvement in sales from last year. Two recent paintings by Chinese artistLiu Weisold for between $200,000 and $250,000, as did two woven glass bead works byLiza Lou: the smallerRelief 2(2017) for between $115,000 and $125,000, and the largerRelief 3(2017) for between $130,000 and $140,000, which went to a trustee of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. Lou’s first New York show in a decade will open Lehmann Maupin’s new 24th Street location next year.
Maupin said that while the fair’s new look certainly helped, it was attention from institutions and curators that are the biggest factor in driving sales for his artists. One example wasMary Corse, who is due to open two shows in the spring, including a presentation atDia:Beaconand a solo show at theWhitney Museum of American Artin New York. Two large paintings from her 2017 “DNA” series sold for between $250,000 and $300,000.
“These things really drive the interest, whether it’s museum exhibitions or curatorial interest, it’s very important to these artists’ careers, that kind of validation or endorsement,” Maupin said.
Installation view of Lisson Gallery’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.
Lisson Gallery, which has outposts in London and New York, had not moved dramatically from its usual location, and was still near the B entrance. But Alex Logsdail, Lisson’s international director, said the layout had pushed more people towards his booth than in prior years.
“The number of people we’re getting through, because there are only [three] entrances rather than four, is just overwhelming,” Logsdail said.
Sales were brisk, too, including two Mary Corse paintings from the gallery’s Miami inventory, although a shimmering silvery-white Corse painting in the booth,Untitled (White Inner Band, Beveled)(2012), was still on reserve as of Wednesday evening, with an asking price of $325,000 (Lisson represents her in London). Lisson also sold a red untitled acrylic and aluminumCarmen Herrerafloor sculptureUntitled Estructura (Red)(1962/2015), created as a monument to her deceased brother, for $500,000;Anish Kapoor’sGlisten (Organic green Satin)(2017) for £600,000; aRodney Grahamfor $180,000; aShirazeh Houshiaryfor $125,000; aPedro Reyesfor $55,000; aStanley Whitneyfor $100,000; and aDaniel Burenfor €130,000. Overall prices in the booth ranged from the mid-five figures to over $1 million.
Art Basel in Miami Beach locates itself at a key connection point between the North, Central, and South American art markets, and Logsdail said many of his sales were driven by Latin American collectors. He cited Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, and Colombia as countries from which his collectors hail, although some of them may be based in Miami. He said the gallery has been cultivating relationships with the continent for years, doing SP-Arte in São Paulo and Zona Maco in Mexico City.
Installation view of Galerie Thaddaues Ropac’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.
Thaddaeus Ropac, owner of the eponymous gallery with outposts in Salzburg, Paris, and London, said North American and, to a lesser degree, European buyers were his strongest clients on opening day, with Latin American and local Miami collectors even less of a factor for his sales. Those included aJames Rosenquist,Coenties Slip Studio(1961), for $2.7 million; aJohn Chamberlainpainted steel wall sculpture,Sashimi Mendoza(1979) for $1.35 million; and anAlex Katzpainting of Calvin Klein models,CK 21(2017) for $550,000. He said nearly the whole booth was sold or on hold by midday.
The redesign meant that some galleries on the western side of the building were a little farther away from front-of-the-house action. Many of the booths focused on secondary market sales, which were furthest away from the entrances but directly at the entrance to the VIP lounge, were a little quieter than their contemporary peers.
Installation view of Goodman Gallery’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.
Elizabeth Callinicos of South Africa’sGoodman Gallery, which represents artists from across Africa as well as international artists, said her booth’s new location felt to her “a bit hidden.”
Still, she said she was having a lot of conversations with institutions, and within the first hour had sold out all available paintings by young Zimbabwean artistMisheck Masamvu. The gallery also sold all three editions out of five that it had on offer of African-American artistHank Willis Thomas’s lenticularAll or Nothing/Nothing at All(2017), in which the two phrases blur into each other as you walk past.
The gallery also sold works by two other Zimbabwean artists,Gerald MachonaandKudzanai Chiurai, by the end of the day. Goodman’s owner, Liza Essers, said in a statement she was pleased to see collectors “engaging with work that speaks to a diversity of global perspectives.”
Installation view of Salon 94’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.
Just next to the entrance, New York’sSalon 94showed a selection of four large paintings, each around six feet by eight feet, by Aboriginal painterWarlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri, who partner and director Alissa Friedman said first showed at Art Basel in Miami Beach three years ago, soon after he joined the program. Tjapaltjarri also had a show at the gallery in the fall of 2015. Two out of the four untitled works from this year on offer had sold within the first half hour.
The location was new for Salon 94—and newly prominent.
“We are front and center in a way that we haven’t been before,” Friedman said, calling the atmosphere “slightly frenzied” in the fair’s early hours.