Monthly Archives: June 2017

Stocks in Focus: Diageo

This week we are looking at Diageo, one of the world’s largest alcoholic beverage companies, following its $1bn offer for an upmarket tequila brand that was co-founded by actor George Clooney. The acquisition of the tequila brand, Casamigos, will initially cost Diageo $700m, and potentially an additional $300m after assessing the performance of the brand over the next decade.

Diageo is currently spread across 21 geographic regions with brands across every category but its main focus has long been premium spirits, with a leading position in the US. Casamigos has grown rapidly since it was launched in 2013 and according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, sales of super-premium tequila are up by more than 700 percent in the US since 2002. Diageo plan to expand the successful brand to countries outside the US, with the hope of penetrating overseas markets – something that remains a key area of focus for CEO, Ivan Menezes, who is also keen for Clooney and his co-owners to remain with the company after the acquisition.

Diageo remains an attractive stock given the long term prospects for expansion to emerging markets, outstanding collection of global brands (including Guinness, Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker), strong management led by Menezes and a good dividend yield. However, Diageo are not expecting Casamigos to be accretive to earnings for another three years, and it will be interesting to see how they go on to build the brand both in the US and overseas. Recent share price performance has remained strong and we continue to be mindful of the price we pay for stocks.

https://www.nwbrown.co.uk/news/company-report-library/

Advertisements

New appointments and a fresh new look

NW Brown is delighted to announce the appointment of Oliver Phillips as Chief Executive. Oliver, who joined the Group in 2005 as an Investment Manager, takes over from Marcus Johnson, who will continue to serve as Deputy Chairman.

Oliver said of his appointment “I feel extremely honoured to be taking on the mantle of leading what I know to be an outstanding group of people, in a company which in many ways is in the best shape it has ever been”.

Other developments within the Group include the appointment of Paul Fox as Deputy Head of Financial Planning and Director of the Board of NW Brown & Company, and the launch of a new website https://www.nwbrown.co.uk/ 

Points of View: Interest Rates

The Bank of England’s (BoE’s) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) met last Thursday and voted to keep interest rates at the historic low of 0.25%.  However the minutes of the meeting showed that three members (out of eight) voted to increase interest rates. The voting was considerably more hawkish than previously, with only one MPC member voting to increase interest rates at the last round of voting. This would usually be indicative of interest rates rising in the near future.

The MPC members that voted to increase the BoE base rate, cited the recent higher inflation as a reason.  Inflation has picked up to 2.9%, well above the 2% target.  Setting the base rate is one of the BoE’s principle tools for controlling inflation.  Interest rates are generally increased to seek to control higher than targeted inflation.

Inflation has increased following the fall in sterling as imports have become comparatively more expensive.  Many economists argue that inflation is only temporarily higher, with slow economic growth inflation will naturally fall and therefore there is no need to push rates up to control it.  Furthermore any increase in interest rates is likely to put an increased burden on households as two thirds of all mortgages are linked to the base rate.

While we agree with the consensus that interest rates are unlikely to rise in the short term, we will eventually see an increase from these historic lows.  When rates do increase, bond yields will increase and therefore bond prices will fall.  Equities may also see valuations fall but will conversely benefit from higher inflation.  We continue to hold fixed return investments with a low sensitivity to interest rate movements and exercise caution in looking at stock valuations.

https://www.nwbrown.co.uk/news/2017/jun/21/points-view-interest-rates/

Points of View: Election results and implications for long term investors

Last week, we saw the Conservative Party falling eight seats short of achieving a majority in the House of Commons. Brexit negotiations with Brussels are due to begin next week but with the result ending in a hung parliament, EU officials do not yet know if the policy outlook will match that mapped out by Mrs May before the snap election.

The market is continuing to digest the election results and the pound is facing some near-term downside risks. Sterling fell to its lowest level for nearly two months on results day and sank further to a seven-month low against the euro on Monday, signalling that investors are worried about the economic ramifications and political uncertainty that will weaken our position ahead of Brexit negotiations. In contrast, the UK equity market has been quite resilient – not least because the large, international companies that dominate the FTSE100 derive a large proportion (c75%) of their earnings from abroad, and a weak currency means that these overseas earnings will be markedly higher when reported in Sterling. The domestic macroeconomics of the UK has little to do with the collection of international businesses that make up the majority of the UK stock market.

For long term investors, the outcome of the election will matter little in the context of returns from a well-constructed equity portfolio that is diversified by company, sector and country. In particular, the aim of such a portfolio is not to outperform the market in any one short period, but to deliver attractive long term real returns. It is also important to remember that investing is also about taking advantage of uncertainty – and the greater the uncertainty, the more likely that irrational price movements will present attractive opportunities for long-term investors.

https://www.nwbrown.co.uk/news/company-report-library/

Stocks in Focus: Perpetual Income & Growth Investment Trust

This week I am looking at the Perpetual Income & Growth Investment Trust (PLI) following the recent release of its 2017 annual results.

The £1bn investment trust, which is managed by Invesco Perpetual’s Mark Barnett, continues to focus on UK companies that can generate long-term returns irrespective of their position in the economic cycle. Dividends are a key driver of long-term returns for investors and in this respect the trust has a strong track record, having increased its aggregate dividend by 8% on an annualised basis over the last 10 years. The dividend yield currently stands at a relatively attractive 3.3%.

Unusually, PLI’s results were slightly disappointing over the 12 months to 31 March 2017 – its net asset value (NAV) rose 9.6% compared to a 22% rise in its FTSE All Share benchmark. This lacklustre performance was mainly due to the sector split, where PLI’s minimal exposure to recovering mining and banking stocks held the fund back. PLI has for some time been underweight the mining sector, which is very cyclical in nature and thus contradicts its strategy; however the rise in commodity prices and falling pound led to strong outperformance by the sector in the period in question.

Despite this latest set of results, our views on PLI have not changed.  We remain confident in Mark Barnett’s abilities and experience.  This is more than demonstrated by the long term performance of the fund, with the share price increasing 132% over the past 10 years compared to 70% for the FTSE All Share Index.  In addition to this, the fund continues to trade at an attractive 7% discount to NAV.

http://www.nwbrown.co.uk/library/