Attractive yields in alternative markets



James de Bunsen and Pete Webster, Co-Fund Managers of Henderson Alternative Strategies Trust, explain how their position as multi-asset managers can benefit investors, particularly during periods of market uncertainty. They also describe the Trust’s performance over the last six months and why the team has chosen to reduce the number of holdings in the Trust’s portfolio, along with what can be expected for the remainder of the year.


Q: Hello and welcome to the latest video update for the Henderson Alternative Strategies Trust. Today I'm joined by Co-Managers James de Bunsen and Pete Webster. Guys thanks for joining me today.

So Pete, first off, let's start by looking at the number of holdings in the trust. The number has gone down a little bit from the end of January where it was about 53 to now about 47. What can you tell me about those? Were they opportunistic sells or were they very deliberate moves?

A: So, there are a couple of reasons why the number of holdings have fallen this year. When we inherited the fund there were quite a lot of holdings with zero or very little value attached to them and we've had a very successful period in actually getting rid of a few of these holdings and fulfilling liquidation processes. So a number of stocks have fallen out of the portfolio for that reason.

The second reason is that this year we have done a bit of a review of the portfolio and have found a couple of stocks that haven't performed that we feel don't really meet the mandate’s rationale. So we believe both Polar Cap Global Financials and Biotech Growth Trust are investments that our investors can get access to themselves. So we've sold these positions and we've built up a little bit of cash in the portfolio as a result.

Q: Thanks Pete. Now James it's been a pretty difficult time for investors at the moment, there's a lot of market uncertainty but as multi-asset investors it gives you access to a universe with an array of opportunities. So what is it that you can access or you can find that your traditional equity investor can't?

A: Yeah I think there are a couple of areas that we've been adding to recently in credit markets and in the property market. In terms of credit we've bought a fund which mainly invests in investment grade floating rate bonds, but is a structured credit fund, so slightly more esoteric; there's a kind of complexity premium to it. We've allocated some capital to a specialist credit manager based in New York, the fund yields about 7% and these bonds have a very, very low default rate historically. So we think it's a good investment, a bit of capital appreciation potential as well. So that's an area we like.

And then in the property sector in the UK we think the industrial sector has still got some good value. And that's particularly focused on the sort of warehouse segment. This is a play on the rise of e-commerce and the fund that we're in, which is called Urban Logistics, that basically buys warehouses around big urban centres close to motorways and that's a key part of the whole logistics chain that is plugging into the whole growth of e-commerce.

And we also actually think that German property still is a very good story. There is a structural supply demand mismatch; very strong labour market growth and you can also borrow very, very cheaply in Germany because rates are so low in the Eurozone. So the yields are still attractive, debts are very cheap, that's a good mixture in the property sector.

Q: Lastly, Pete, how would you describe the Trust's performance over the last six months and what would you reasonably expect going forward?

A: At the end of May the fund’s NAV was up 4.6%. We have lagged below equity benchmarks but we believe that is a result of how well we held up in the volatility of the fourth quarter. We've also faced a couple of stock specific issues mainly from Riverstone Energy Ltd and Ceiba, the Cuban property owner and developer.

These stocks have both been impacted by the political instability in terms of ‘Trade War’ rhetoric and slowing global growth hitting oil prices; and possible increased sanctions against Cuba from the US, in the case of Ceiba. Going forwards we believe investors have probably seen most of the returns they will see for 2019 and the second half of 2019 will be characterised by lower returns. As a result, the portfolio is positioned very defensively. We are looking to protect capital at the moment and we believe we may get some opportunities to add more risk and more attractive valuations than we see today.

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. Any securities, funds, sectors and indices mentioned within this article do not constitute or form part of any offer or solicitation to buy or sell them.

Past performance is not a guide to future performance. 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.

For promotional purposes.

Important information

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

Henderson Alternative Strategies Trust plc

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.

Past performance is not a guide to future performance. 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.

Issued in the UK by Janus Henderson Investors. Janus Henderson Investors is the name under which investment products and services are provided by Janus Capital International Limited (reg no. 3594615), Henderson Global Investors Limited (reg. no. 906355), Henderson Investment Funds Limited (reg. no. 2678531), AlphaGen Capital Limited (reg. no. 962757), Henderson Equity Partners Limited (reg. no.2606646), (each registered in England and Wales at 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AE and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) and Henderson Management S.A. (reg no. B22848 at 2 Rue de Bitbourg, L-1273, Luxembourg and regulated by the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier). We may record telephone calls for our mutual protection, to improve customer service and for regulatory record keeping purposes.

Specific risks

  • Active management techniques that have worked well in normal market conditions could prove ineffective or detrimental at other times.
  • This trust is suitable to be used as one component in several in a diversified investment portfolio. Investors should consider carefully the proportion of their portfolio invested into this trust.
  • The trust may have a particularly concentrated portfolio (low number of holdings) relative to its investment universe and an adverse event impacting only a small number of holdings can create significant volatility or losses for the trust.
  • The trust could lose money if a counterparty with which it trades becomes unwilling or unable to meet its obligations to the trust.
  • The return on your investment is directly related to the prevailing market price of the trust’s shares, which will trade at a varying discount (or premium) relative to the value of the underlying assets of the trust. As a result losses (or gains) may be higher or lower than those of the trust’s assets.
  • Global portfolios may include some exposure to Emerging Markets, which tend to be less stable than more established markets and can be affected by local political and economic conditions, reliability of trading systems, buying and selling practices and financial reporting standards.
  • 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.
  • Where the trust invests in assets which are denominated in currencies other than the base currency then currency exchange rate movements may cause the value of investments to fall as well as rise.
  • The trust may use gearing as part of its investment strategy. If the trust utilises its ability to gear, the profits and losses incured by the trust can be greater than those of a trust that does not use gearing.
  • In certain circumstances the investment manager may not be able to sell investments from the trust's portfolio. This could have a negative impact on the overall performance of the trust.

Risk rating


Important message