Alliance Trust ‘encouraged’ by external manager start

Alliance Trust chairman Robert Smith

Dundee-based investment firm Alliance Trust announced results for the six months to June 30 as it makes a transition to its new investment approach with external asset manager Willis Towers Watson (WTW).

Alliance Trust said Total Shareholder Return was 10.8% and Net Asset Value (NAV) Total Return was 12.4%, compared with the +6.4% of its benchmark index the MSCI ACWI.

It said its share price rose 9.7% over the six months and its equity portfolio outperformed the MSCI ACWI benchmark by 4.2%.

Alliance Trust plc chairman Robert Smith said: “Alliance Trust Investments (ATI) was responsible for the Trust’s performance to 17th March, at which point the transition commenced.

“The new strategy became effective on 1st April, with the official appointment of WTW and the transition completed on 12th April.

“ATI was sold, at what we believe was a fair price, to Liontrust Asset Management, and that this is a good home for the team …

“We are encouraged that, despite undertaking the transition to the new portfolio, the Trust outperformed its benchmark on a NAV total return basis by 6.0%, primarily driven by the outperformance of the equity portfolio …”

Smith added: “This has been a transformational period for the Trust.

“We are pleased that the equity portfolio outperformed its benchmark against an uncertain market backdrop, all while transitioning to our new alliance of best ideas investment approach. 

“The geographic and sector weights of the Trust’s portfolio closely mirror those of the benchmark.

“This means that the relative performance is driven by the active stock selection of the underlying managers chosen by WTW.

“Looking forward, WTW expects higher levels of volatility to characterise investment markets, resulting in an excellent environment for active stock picking and thus for Alliance Trust.  

“We are confident that the Trust will deliver attractive returns for our shareholders over the long term under the new approach, and are grateful to our shareholders for their support.

“Although it is still early days, the Trust is demonstrating that it can deliver outperformance at competitive cost.”