Maestro Equity Fund comment - Sept 18
Following the trauma of last month’s market behaviour, especially within emerging currency and equity markets, September seemed relatively tranquil. If the 0.4% and -0.8% MSCI World and Emerging market respective returns are anything to go by, one can be forgiven for thinking markets were relatively calm. Of course, it is never that simple.
The Japanese equity market led the gains with a 5.5% monthly increase, while amongst the larger emerging markets, India led the losses with a 6.3% decline. There were the odd emerging market outliers, such as Turkey and Russia, which rose 7.8% and 9.1% respectively (the Russian market is always firm when the oil price rises), while Greece lost 5.2%. The Chinese equity market rose 3.5%, following its 5.3% loss in August. So all in all the month represented a mixture of returns, with little happening on the surface but a lot more going on underneath. There was also notable differences in the market capitalization (size) movements, with the US large cap index (S&P500) rising 0.6% but the S&P Mid and Small cap indices falling 1.2% and 3.3% respectively. Global bond markets were relatively calm but ended the month weaker; the Bloomberg Global and US Aggregate bond indices lost 0.9% and 0.6% respectively.
The dollar was relatively stable, which allowed some respite following the emerging market currency carnage last month. The rand firmed 3.5%, the Russian rouble 2.8%, and the Turkish lira 10.2%, but the Indian rupee lost 2.1%.
With respect to the SA equity market, the downtrend that has been in place for a couple of years continued. The All share index shed 4.2%, led by the large cap Top40 index, which fell 4.7%. The Mid and Small cap indices lost 3.7% and 1.7% respectively. Notwithstanding the firm rand, the Financial index ended September 2.0% lower while the Industrial index lost 7.7%; dragged lower by 41.9%, 15.1%, 14.1% and 11.1% respective monthly losses in Aspen, Imperial, Bidvest and Richemont share prices. The Basic material index rose 1.1%. Spurred in part by the firm rand, the All Bond index rose 0.3%.
Investment manager comment
The return on the Fund was -4.4% versus the -4.2% All Share index return. The strong rand proved to be a headwind for the offshore trackers in the portfolio, which constitute 26.5% of the Fund. Shares that detracted from the returns included Aspen, which fell 41.9% on the back of the poor results, although the reaction seemed totally overdone in our view. Ascendis Health lost 14.6% (it did rise 17.5% last month, though), while Naspers lost 6.6%. On the upside, AdaptIT rose 3.4%, KAP 3.6%, and Afrimat 14.8%.
During the month we sold the entire holding in Echo Polska Property.
The Fund's objective is to produce above average long-term returns by investing in the South African equity market. It will simultaneously aim to assume less risk than the risk inherent in the market itself. The Fund adopts a conservative investment philosophy.