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Look beyond the UK when it comes to income

HINT

Henderson International Income Trust plc

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How Asia is becoming income investor friendly

While Asian companies are not known for paying dividends, this is changing. Henderson International Income Trust is actively investing in Asian equities...

Value investors look for companies whose shares are trading at less than their fundamental value. In the past, fundamental value tended to be a few times more than the recorded worth of physical assets such as factories and stock. Increasingly, it includes other things of value, such as the company’s brand strength, or the patents for its inventions. So far, so simple.

However, in some parts of Asia, a curious pattern has emerged. Shares in many companies are trading at prices below the book value of their assets – and have been for some time. This isn’t because the companies are inherently worse than those listed in the US, UK and Europe. Instead, a key reason is the corporate culture in some economies.

Changing policy to improve investor relations

Over the last year, governments in two of those economies – Japan and South Korea – have taken steps to address this issue. Economists often argue that a healthy stock market is essential for a healthy economy, which gives these governments a clear incentive. Indeed, it is a debate that is alive in the UK too.

In 2023, the Tokyo Stock Exchange asked all listed companies to introduce policies focused on improving profitability, their long-term returns and their valuations.  Meanwhile, last week the Korean Financial Services Commission introduced its “Corporate Value-Up Programme”. In the announcement, the Commission said:

“Above all, the government will pursue raising the Korean stock market attractiveness by improving shareholder returns and weak governance structures. To this end, specific measures for the ‘Corporate Value-Up Program’ will be announced this month, aiming to encourage companies to proactively enhance their corporate value.”

The opportunity for income investors

Notably for Henderson International Income Trust investors, both the Korean and Japanese authorities are encouraging companies to pay higher dividends to shareholders.

We often say that it is important for value investors to have patience. It can take months or years for a company’s stock market fortunes to significantly improve. But, dividends make being patient easier. They essentially pay investors to wait for returns from increased share prices.

The cultural change in Asian business is on its way. Dividends have risen in the region in recent years. In Hong Kong and Korea, some companies still controlled by their founding families have introduced dividends and share buybacks before policy was changed, with owners sick of their low valuations. Successful value investing starts with someone acting to reverse a company’s fortunes. We will take that in whatever form it comes.

At the moment, Asia-Pacific stocks make up almost a quarter of HINT’s portfolio. Meanwhile, our holding in Korean insurer Samsung Fire and Marine was the top contributor to our performance in January.

To find out more about Henderson International Income Trust, click here

Glossary

Dividend

A variable discretionary payment made by a company to its shareholders.

Equity

A security representing ownership, typically listed on a stock exchange. ‘Equities’ as an asset class means investments in shares, as opposed to, for instance, bonds. To have ‘equity’ in a company means to hold shares in that company and therefore have part ownership.

Portfolio

A grouping of financial assets such as equities, bonds, commodities, properties or cash. Also often called a ‘fund’.

 

Disclaimer

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.

Not for onward distribution. 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. 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. Tax assumptions and reliefs depend upon an investor’s particular circumstances and may change if those circumstances or the law change. Nothing in this document is intended to or should be construed as advice. This document is not a recommendation to sell or purchase any investment. It does not form part of any contract for the sale or purchase of any investment. We may record telephone calls for our mutual protection, to improve customer service and for regulatory record keeping purposes.

Issued in the UK by Janus Henderson Investors. Janus Henderson Investors is the name under which investment products and services are provided by Janus Henderson Investors International Limited (reg no. 3594615), Janus Henderson Investors UK  Limited (reg. no. 906355), Janus Henderson Fund Management UK Limited (reg. no. 2678531), (each registered in England and  Wales at 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AE and regulated by the Financial  Conduct Authority) and Janus Henderson Investors Europe S.A. (reg no. B22848 at 2 Rue de Bitbourg, L-1273, Luxembourg and regulated by the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier).

Janus Henderson is a trademark of Janus Henderson Group plc or one of its subsidiaries. © Janus Henderson Group plc

Important information

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
  • Higher yielding bonds are issued by companies that may have greater difficulty in repaying their financial obligations. High yield bonds are not traded as frequently as government bonds and therefore may be more difficult to trade in distressed markets.
  • The portfolio allows the manager to use options for efficient portfolio management. Options can be volatile and may result in a capital loss.
  • Global portfolios may include some exposure to Emerging Markets, which tend to be less stable than more established markets. These markets can be affected by local political and economic conditions as well as variances in the reliability of trading systems, buying and selling practices and financial reporting standards.
  • Where the Company invests in assets that are denominated in currencies other than the base currency, the currency exchange rate movements may cause the value of investments to fall as well as rise.
  • 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.
  • If the Company seeks to minimise risks (such as exchange rate movements), the measures designed to do so may be ineffective, unavailable or negative for performance.
  • All or part of the Company's management fee is taken from its capital. While this allows more income to be paid, it may also restrict capital growth or even result in capital erosion over time.