Clyde is Co-Head of Quality at Ninety One. He is a portfolio manager with a focus on multi-asset absolute return and low volatility real return equity investing. His portfolio manager duties include our flagship Opportunity Strategy that he has run since 2003 and our equity oriented Global Franchise and Global Quality Equity Income strategies. Clyde joined the firm in 1999, initially as an asset allocation and sector allocation strategist. Prior to joining the firm, Clyde was awarded a study bursary by Sanlam where he worked for eight years, including five years in asset management. His experience in investments there included fixed income analysis and portfolio management. Clyde graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor of Science degree in Statistics and Actuarial Science. He was awarded the Certificates in Actuarial Techniques in 1995, and Finance and Investments in 1997 by the Institute of Actuaries in London. Clyde is a CFA Charterholder.
Investec Opportunity comment - Jun 13
Market review Central bank talk dominated financial markets over the past quarter. Investors reacted positively to the Bank of Japan's announcement early in the quarter about its large-scale monetary easing policies. Riskier trades were particularly well supported, and emerging market equities started to retrace some of the earlier losses. However, US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke put a damper on rampant asset price appreciation by hinting that the market should recognise record policy accommodation as finite and data dependent. Even though his comments were merely providing guidance, markets responded immediately. Emerging markets saw one of their weakest months on record. Currencies depreciated against the US dollar and local currency debt - which has been a beneficiary of global investment flows for a long time - sold off sharply. Commodity prices followed other risk assets, first up, then down sharply in June, as global economic growth data remained mixed and the road to a rebalanced Chinese economy seemed rocky. The MSCI AC World NR Index returned -0.4% in dollars over the quarter. Emerging market equities underperformed developed market equities, with the MSCI Emerging Markets NR Index losing 8.1% over the quarter. The Citigroup World Government Bond Index (All Maturities) gave up 3% over this period. The All Bond Index lost 2.3% in rands over the quarter while inflation-linked bonds shed 5% from severely overvalued levels. Cash, as measured by the STeFI Composite Index, returned 1.3% for the quarter. Listed property ended the review period almost flat, having recovered May's losses with a bounce in June. South African equities ended almost unchanged in the second quarter, but volatility was high during this period. The sector laggards remain mostly confined to resource stocks with gold (-33.5%), platinum (-23.9%), coal (-10%) and diversified miners (-10.8%) all experiencing double-digit losses in rands. Year to date, the resources sector is trailing the overall market by 19.4 percentage points. Industrial stocks mostly held their ground over the quarter and defensive stocks, on average, achieved strong absolute returns. Financials lagged, with banks down 6.2% and life insurers flat for the quarter after a particularly weak June.
Portfolio review The portfolio's return was positive for the quarter, led by our global equity holdings and a significantly weaker rand. The largest detractors from performance were the select resources holdings in the portfolio: NewGold and Impala Platinum. Concerns about the local mining industry remain, and the depreciation of the rand has not been sufficient to offset the effects of falling dollar commodity prices and lower production volumes. As we enter wage negotiation season, tensions among the dominant unions and between labour and management appear to be increasing. Physical gold deteriorated with rising real yields in the US. Higher real yields have increased the opportunity cost of holding the metal.
Portfolio activity Portfolio activity over the quarter was relatively subdued. We sold the remainder of our small holding in African Bank. Our decision was based on concerns about the health of over-indebted consumers, the potential for increased unemployment due to mining sector retrenchments and the increasing risks in African Bank.
Portfolio positioning We remain concerned about further rand weakness. Most economic indicators appear to be pointing to the US economy strengthening and a slowing of easy money. We are slightly less optimistic than most, as increases to bond yields at the long end of the curve will result in further pressure on consumers in the form of increased mortgage repayments. Nevertheless, the strengthening recovery should focus the 'risk-on trade' in the US, resulting in a stronger US dollar. The risk to our local markets is that we have not yet experienced significant foreign outflows, even though we have seen a substantially weaker rand. As the US recovery gains momentum, we expect investors to become increasingly averse to risk in other areas of the global economy, and volatility to rise. On the China front, Beijing has turned its attention away from the quantity of growth, and is instead focusing on the quality of growth. Here, too, it appears that there are concerns about credit extension. Slower growth from China translates into weaker demand for resources, which is not bullish for commodity prices or the rand. Overall, the local equity market is trading at elevated price earnings multiples, with a significant divergence between resource and industrial companies. We expect increased risk to both our equity and bond markets. Given current conditions, we remain invested in opportunities that we believe will reduce the losses from any shocks, and provide investors with inflation-beating returns. While the risk inherent in equities is elevated in the current environment, they offer the best expected return, and the strongest protection against inflation in the medium to long term. A significant portion of the portfolio is therefore held in local and foreign equities with a strong valuation underpin and rand hedge qualities (55%), with smaller, offsetting positions in bonds (14%) and the gold exchange traded fund (2.5%). We have maintained our cash holding in anticipation of opportunities that will enable us to further enhance investors' overall returns. As always, we remain unwavering in our commitment to growing investors' capital in a judicious and discriminate manner.
The Ninety One Opportunity Fund aims to produce dependable inflation-beating returns, while minimising downside risk. The objective is to achieve returns well in excess of inflation measured over three to five year periods.
The fund invests in a mix of South African equities, bonds and money market instruments, as well as international equity and fixed interest investments. Equity exposure is currently limited to 75% and the international exposure to 25%. The allocation of assets is actively managed with a bias towards equities that are attractively priced given their inherent value.