For financial professionals in the UK

Fund manager August commentary – Lowland Investment Company

Laura Foll, CFA

Laura Foll, CFA

Portfolio Manager

15 Sep 2020
2 minute read

The UK equity market continued to modestly recover during August, with small and medium sized companies (as measured by AIM and the FTSE 250 index respectively) outperforming larger companies (as measured by the FTSE 100). As parts of the domestic economy re-open following ‘lockdown’, early signs are that trading activity is recovering in a number of areas. Small and medium sized companies are, on average, more domestic in exposure and this may help to explain part of the outperformance. In many cases when companies are reporting second quarter earnings and updating on trading, trading in July and August has returned to similar levels to 2019. While it is too early to say whether this trend is sustainable, it is encouraging nonetheless.

Among the best performing stocks in August were two of the earlier stage companies held (4D Pharma and Simec Atlantis) following positive news. 4D Pharma, an early stage drug development company, reported encouraging efficacy results from one of its products used in late stage cancer patients in combination with an existing immunotherapy product. While the data was in a small number of people (12 in total), it is now being moved onto a much larger trial across a range of different cancer types. Simec Atlantis, a renewable energy company, secured project financing for the first phase of its key project in Wales (converting a coal-fired power plant to one that uses waste pellets of non-recyclable plastics and paper). Their ability to secure financing for the project was a key question mark for the shares, so this represents a material milestone. Other strong performers during the month included Phoenix Group and Provident Financial, both of which reported good results relative to expectations. The largest (actively held) detractor, Somero Enterprises, makes concrete levelling equipment for use in construction predominantly in the US. It had no material news and trading volume was low (after month end the share price has recovered on an encouraging trading update and an announcement they are restarting dividend payments).

There were no new positions purchased in August, but existing positions including IP Group, Morgan Advanced Materials and Marks & Spencer were added to. These purchases were funded by reductions including XP Power (reduced on valuation grounds following strong share price performance), St Modwen (following modestly disappointing results) and exiting a small holding in Hornby.

These are the views of the author at the time of publication and may differ from the views of other individuals/teams at Janus Henderson Investors. References made to individual securities do not constitute a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any security, investment strategy or market sector, and should not be assumed to be profitable. Janus Henderson Investors, its affiliated advisor, or its employees, may have a position in the securities mentioned.


Past performance does not predict future returns. The value of an investment and the income from it can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount originally invested.


The information in this article does not qualify as an investment recommendation.


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Please read the following important information regarding funds related to this article.

Before investing in an investment trust referred to in this document, you should satisfy yourself as to its suitability and the risks involved, you may wish to consult a financial adviser. This is a marketing communication. Please refer to the AIFMD Disclosure document and Annual Report of the AIF before making any final investment decisions.
    Specific risks
  • If a Company's portfolio is concentrated towards a particular country or geographical region, the investment carries greater risk than a portfolio that is diversified across more countries.
  • Some of the investments in this portfolio are in smaller company shares. They may be more difficult to buy and sell, and their share prices may fluctuate more than those of larger companies.
  • This Company is suitable to be used as one component of several within a diversified investment portfolio. Investors should consider carefully the proportion of their portfolio invested in this Company.
  • Active management techniques that have worked well in normal market conditions could prove ineffective or negative for performance at other times.
  • The Company could lose money if a counterparty with which it trades becomes unwilling or unable to meet its obligations to the Company.
  • Shares can lose value rapidly, and typically involve higher risks than bonds or money market instruments. The value of your investment may fall as a result.
  • The return on your investment is directly related to the prevailing market price of the Company's shares, which will trade at a varying discount (or premium) relative to the value of the underlying assets of the Company. As a result, losses (or gains) may be higher or lower than those of the Company's assets.
  • The Company may use gearing (borrowing to invest) as part of its investment strategy. If the Company utilises its ability to gear, the profits and losses incurred by the Company can be greater than those of a Company that does not use gearing.