Sarah-Jane joined the Coronation investment team in 2008 as an equity analyst. Her current responsibilities include co-managing the Coronation Industrial Fund and researching food producers and hospital stocks amongst others. Prior to joining Coronation, she formed part of the investment team at JP Morgan Asset Management in London where she was a European research analyst and then co-manager of their UK Smaller Companies Fund.
Coronation Industrial comment - Mar 17
The FTSE/JSE All Share Index returned 3.78% for the quarter and 2.53% over the past 12 months. While the Resources Index remains the major contributor over one year (up 16.67%), the quarter was dominated by industrials strength (up 6.63%). This reflects the strong rand hedge characteristics of the FTSE/JSE Industrials Index components. Financials underperformed for the quarter (down 1.08%) as political developments in the final days of March saw a rapid contraction in sector multiples. This has continued in early April. The fund underperformed for the quarter, returning 5.65% versus a 6.63% return for the Industrials Index. However, over one and three years the fund achieved positive alpha of 3.82% and 2.48% respectively, while over the longer-term five-year period it recorded 1.93% outperformance.
Our commentaries over the past year have been dominated increasingly by political events both globally and locally. This commentary will be no exception. Brexit, Trump and the Italian referendum increased our caution on European politics going into 2017. However, the events to date have been benign. The defeat suffered by far-right politician Geert Wilders in the Dutch election was a vote against anti-immigration and anti-EU sentiment which seemed to be building in the region. Checks and balances in the US have also meant little real policy change to date, despite the change in leadership. Conversely, in South Africa, political risk has been heightened. The firing of finance minister Pravin Gordhan seriously undermines fiscal discipline as reflected in the loss of South Africa's foreign currency investment grade rating from Standard & Poor's. As the ANC leadership battle continues to play out ahead of their national conference in December of this year, we expect significant volatility and uncertainty.
When assessing benchmark relative performance, the concentrated nature of benchmarks in South Africa means that deciding which shares not to own is as important as deciding on which shares to own. This held true over the past quarter during which the contributors to performance largely came from positions in which we were underweight (e.g. Bidvest, Netcare, Vodacom, Spar and Imperial). In fact, of the top 10 contributors to performance for the quarter, only three were overweight positions. These included British American Tobacco and Mondi, and for long we have touted their respective virtues of strong business fundamentals and excellent capital allocation at a good rating.
Major shares that detracted from performance over the quarter were those we owned, including Richemont, Steinhoff, Mediclinic and Capevin. We hold significant overweight positions in Steinhoff, Mediclinic and Capevin. All of these remain high conviction ideas. Notwithstanding our position in Richemont, it detracted from performance given its large weighting in the concentrated industrial benchmark.
The current weakness in Mediclinic has created an opportunity to increase exposure to a high-quality, defensive hospital run by a management team that focuses on doing the right thing over the long term; prioritising clinical quality to ensure optimal patient outcomes. Mediclinic's recent acquisition in the Middle East has been a setback to earnings as the business is being restructured to eradicate unethical doctor practices and digests regional regulatory change. The focus on ethical and clinical best practice and high levels of efficiency versus state healthcare providers mean this business is well-positioned for the long term. Our conviction in Naspers continues to build as management work hard to streamline the portfolio; disposing of non-core assets, investing in serious challenger brands and monetising market leading positions. Naspers's core holding in Tencent remains an attractive one. Tencent too, is investing to widen the moat surrounding their business, building compelling user propositions in a broad variety of formats. Their more recent foray into payments has seen them grow organically at a phenomenal rate by leveraging the strength of their platform and creating a serious contender in the payment space in a very short space of time. Valuation remains gripping.
Noise and volatility in local markets remain elevated, but given the portfolio's high exposure to offshore businesses we think the fund is well positioned with high exposure to offshore businesses. For some time, we have communicated the compelling valuation levels in many of the rand hedge stocks we hold (Naspers, Mediclinic, Aspen, MTN, Steinhoff, to name a few), funded by limited exposure to stocks that are sensitive to the domestic economy. The unfolding of political events at the time of writing saw the rand weaken significantly and domestic stocks underperforming. At this point, we see little reason to change the portfolio bias towards rand hedge stocks, which continue to offer value in the face of a challenging domestic environment.
Invests in a broad range of domestic industrial shares.