Collective Investments

Asset Managers With $74 Trillion on Brink of Historic Shakeout

Readers may find this Bloomberg analysis of the asset management industry interesting. It is full of lots of data and interesting charts. It highlights the move towards passive and the high costs of active funds. see https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2019-asset-management-in-decline/ Asset Managers With $74 Trillion on Brink of Historic Shakeout By Suzy Waite, Annie Massa and Christopher Cannon 8 August 2019 The industry that gave rise to investing titans Peter Lynch, Bill Miller and Bill Gross is facing an existential crisis. For years, mom-and-pop investors frustrated by high fees ...

Burford Capital, Goals Soccer Centres, Carillion, and Why Numbers Are Not Important

To follow on from my previous comments this morning on Burford Capital (BUR), this is a typical “shorting” attack where the shorter (Muddy Waters) and their supporters make a lot of allegations which investors are unable to verify in any useful time frame. I certainly questioned the accounting approach used by Burford and other litigation finance firms as I commented on it back in June, but disentangling the factual accusations in the Muddy Waters dossier from innuendo and comment is not ...

Bonmarché Update, FCA Grilling over Woodford and Amati AIM VCT AGM

Yesterday Bonmarché (BON) conceded defeat in its opposition to a takeover bid at 11.4p. On the 17th May it had rejected the bid because it “materially undervalues Bonmarché and its prospects”. The share price of this women’s clothing retailer was over 100p a year ago but the latest trading review suggests sales are dire because of underlying weakness in the clothing market and “a lack of seasonal weather”. Auditors might have qualified the accounts due to be published soon due to ...

Woodford, FCA, Asset Management

Today the FT reveals that the FCA have launched an investigation in the Woodford Equity Income Fund. Last night in the Evening Standard, Anthony Hilton estimated that only about 200,000 people were invested in Woodford funds, and added "so why all the fuss". I think it is about trust. Most people in the UK do not trust business. For example, it does not help public levels of trust when Woodford takes a £36m dividend (from Woodford Investment Management Limited year end March 2018 ...

Worldwide Healthcare Trust and Investor Voting

I recently received the Annual Report of Worldwide Healthcare Trust (WWH). This is one of those companies that has stopped sending out proxy voting forms for their AGM. The Registrar is Link Asset Services who seem to be making it as difficult as possible for shareholders on the register to vote. You either have to contact them to request a proxy voting form, or register for their on-line portal. I don’t want to register (and the last time I tried it ...

JESC and WPCT – Much in Common

Last week I received the Annual Report of JP Morgan European Smaller Companies Trust (JESC) which I have held since 2012. It has a good long-term performance but last year was disappointing. Net asset value return of minus 7.5% which is worse than their benchmark of minus 3.6%. The share price did even worse and it is now on a discount to NAV of nearly 15% as the discount has widened. The under-performance was attributed to poor stock selection. The Chairman, Carolan ...

Paying Illegal Dividends, Burford Capital, Woodford Patient Capital Trust and Zero Carbon Objective

A group of investors including Sarasin, Legal & General, Hermes and the UK Shareholders Association (UKSA) has written to Sir Donald Brydon who is undertaking a review of the audit market. They have yet again raised the question of whether the International Financial Accounting Standards (IFRS) are consistent with UK company law. In particular they question whether profits are sometimes being recognised, thus allowing the payment of illegal dividends. The particular issue is whether profits can arise on certain transactions under ...

Woodford Equity Income Fund Suspension – Analysis and Solutions

The business media is awash with analysis and comment on the closure of the Woodford Equity Income Fund to redemptions – meaning investors cannot take their money out, much to their dismay. I write as an innocent bystander as I have never held any of the Woodford managed funds. But I have not been totally unaffected by the problem of investors taking their money out, which has led to the suspension, because it has resulted in Woodford needing to sell some of ...

Mello Trust and Funds Event and ShareSoc AGM

I managed to attend part of the Mello Trust and Funds Event in West London yesterday and although I had other commitments today, I may manage to attend the second day of the main Mello 2019 event tomorrow. If you have not attended one of these events before, it is definitely worth doing so. The only slight criticism I would have is that getting to Chiswick from South East London where I live via the slow District Line is not great. ...

Closet Indexing

I am returning to the subject of closet indexing, which is the name given to asset managers who claim to be active managers and charge active fees, but make their investments so that they are unlikely to underperform the index or outperform it. We have made the point to the FCA in a consultation response about the problems with closet trackers. It is good to see the FT giving the issue high profile coverage. The FT published an article on 8 May ...