Emerging market currencies could benefit Murray [Herald, The (Scotland)]
(Herald, The (Scotland) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Plunging emerging market currencies could bring buying opportunities for Murray International investment trust, manager Bruce Stout has said.
The pound(s)1.4 billion trust, run in Edinburgh for Aberdeen Asset Management, saw first-half performance negatively impacted by under-exposure to North America, Brazil and Japan, while solid absolute returns were achieved in Asia as a whole.
The trust's relatively low exposure to the UK had a positive impact on performance. The net asset value total return was 9.3% against 12.4% for the global growth and income trust's benchmark, while the 9% rise in the share price maintained the trust's premium.
Mr Stout said sentiment on US stimulus was doing a lot of damage to currencies, with the Indian rupee at an all-time low against sterling and steep falls in the South African rand, Indonesian rupiah and Brazilian real.
"It is affecting us negatively, but looking forward on a three to five-year view, we are seeing the same companies 15% to 20% cheaper than they were, without significant damage to their growth model."
He said the trust, known for its lack of trading activity, might be "a bit more active than normal" in the present environment.
Murray International has gearing of 12%, with its bond exposure skewed to emerging markets.
Mr Stout noted that in the half-year, UK gilts were down 5.5% and US treasuries down 6% in sterling terms, and had continued to be negative since then. "The backdrop is rising bond yields and that is always a very tough backdrop for an investment strategy. But returns in the first half were in excess of what we expected - forget about benchmarks, mainly because earnings growth and dividend growth has been very muted, a lot of companies are finding it very difficult to get any top-line growth, we are seeing a lot of profit warnings all over the place."
Mr Stout said the market rises of 20% in the US and 25% in Japan in the half-year were "ludicrous in terms of overvaluation", adding: "It is very difficult for us to find companies in these areas that first of all meet the criteria for a global growth and income trust, they are two of the lowest-yielding markets."
He went on: "So we have to look towards our strategy and try to preserve capital, finding different types of business in different areas of the world and we managed to achieve that in the first half."
Kevin Carter, chairman, said: "Having recently witnessed the destabilising effects of mere rhetoric towards withdrawing (monetary) stimulus, it is reasonable to assume that the effects on financial markets of actual implementation are likely to be similarly unpleasant." Policymakers would need to be "skilful in exercising the difficult economic balancing act that lies before them".
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