£1.3bn Monks fund rides Brexit, Trump fortunes

Monks chairman James Ferguson

Baillie Gifford’s £1.3 billion Monks Investment Trust said the consequences of the Brexit vote had been very good news for the closed-end fund in the short term because more than 90% of the fund’s assets are denominated in currencies other than sterling.

The fall in sterling since the Brexit vote plus the recent rise in equities translated to a net asset value total return of 25.3% and a share price total return of 27.5% for the Monks fund over the six months to the end of October 2016.

Monks invests in companies globally in order to achieve capital growth, which takes priority over income and dividends.

The biggest positive contributors to the fund’s performance were technology stocks — US and Chinese on-line retailers Amazon and Alibaba, South African group Naspers, Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturer TSMC, US online search engine group Alphabet and German enterprise software company SAP.

However Monks chairman James Ferguson warned: “As with Brexit, the opacity of (Donald) Trump’s policies means that it is hard to fathom what might happen to the growth patterns of individual companies, particularly those with direct US exposure.

“The introduction of trade barriers and protectionism might lead to lower levels of international trade, which would not be the optimal backdrop for the portfolio.

“Nonetheless, Trump’s stated desire of stimulating growth through internal investment could prove a boon to the US economy and the managers remain confident in the underlying growth of the US economy.

“With the political and policy background so fluid it is too early to draw long term conclusions following Trump’s success.

“No adjustment has been made to the portfolio as a consequence; however, the managers remain alert to any developments in his policies that could impact the operational performance of the holdings.

“The managers believe that the portfolio consists of companies which are sufficiently flexible and resilient to cope with changing circumstances within their markets and remain excited by the possibilities and prospects afforded to long term investors.”

Over the six month period, the fund’s net asset value (NAV) total return was 25.3% compared to a total return of 23.6% for the FTSE World Index (in sterling terms).

The share price total return for the same period was 27.5%, with the discount to net asset value narrowing to 8.0%.

Monks is managed by Edinburgh-based Baillie Gifford which has around £140 billion under management.