The Trust outperformed the benchmark during the month, helped by a cash bid for medical device manufacturer Consort Medical from a European peer. The Trust’s net asset value rose 2.6% on a total return basis relative to a 2.2% rise in its benchmark, the FTSE All-Share.
We are now the majority of the way through third quarter trading updates and they have broadly been positive. Notable results in November included Morgan Advanced Materials which reported roughly flat organic growth (a good outcome in the current industrial environment given the backdrop of poor manufacturing data) and the shares rose just over 20% during the month, demonstrating how low expectations have become for some industrial companies. Direct Line also reported positive results to coincide with a capital markets day, where the new CEO is making good progress on growing newer areas (such as price comparison websites, small business insurance) as well as reducing expenses. The shares rose just over 12% during the month.
Within detractors, the largest actively held detractor was Hiscox on higher ‘social inflation’ in the US (in other words higher external lawyer fees as claimants hold out longer in the hope of higher payouts). We met with the Hiscox management team following the results and have maintained the position.
We are now entering a quieter period for company results but are approaching the general election. This could remove the ‘Corbyn’ overhang on some of the stocks held, such as National Grid, Severn Trent, RBS and Royal Mail.