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Forget the fiscal cliff, focus on innovative companies, says Train

Nick Train, manager of the Finsbury Growth & Income trust, explains why he’s sticking with ‘defensive’ stocks and isn’t worried about the fiscal cliff.

 
Forget the fiscal cliff, focus on innovative companies, says Train

Will they, won’t they? The questions surrounding a possible deal on the US fiscal cliff which could change the course of the tax hikes and spending cuts that are set to take effect at the start of next year are dominating market headlines this month.

But Nick Train, manager of the Finsbury Growth & Income trust, says long-term equity investors shouldn’t be so concerned by what happens with the negotiations, which is perhaps surprising as his trust has a large exposure to the region. 

Train explains: ‘I’m more interested in the innovation coming out of the Apple’s and Facebook’s and companies we can’t even conceive of yet. History teaches us that innovation is much more important for equity investors than fiscal issues, though that’s not the case for bond or currency holders.

‘When we look at the world today much of the wealth creation is going on in the US from Facebook to fracking that’s where the action is and that’s why we’re comfortable having a 29% exposure to the region.’

The trust has had a strong year to date as the NAV of the trust has increased 22.8%, and is 11% ahead of the benchmark FTSE All Share total returns which have been 11.2%. However Train questions if the returns can be maintained.

He adds: ‘It’s fair to ask, ‘is this as good as it gets from this strategy?’ Or should you be expecting our super-low turnover of holdings of 6% per annum to be rising markedly over the next few years whilst we recycle our holdings. But the answer is ‘no’, we have no intention to make any material changes to the portfolio or to the strategy.’

One of the biggest surprises in the trust is the lack of strong returns coming from core ‘defensive’ stocks. Eleven stocks in the portfolio have increased by 20% or more so far this year. However of those only two would be considered defensive stocks - Diageo (DGE.L) and Heineken.

The other holdings which have helped boost the trust’s performance are Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT.L); Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.L); London Stock Exchange (LSE.L); and Schroders (SDR.L).

Train explains: ‘We’re not so sure of the assumption that defensives are the only place to be...the single best performing in the trust, and one of the best performers on the FTSE 100 this year is Hargreaves Lansdown, is that defensive? What about Daily Mail and some of these regional pub companies.'

He continues: ‘If a year ago to day you had decided that defensives were where it was going to be at in 2012 and you would have been overweight in GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L), Vodafone (VOD.L) and Tesco (TSCO.L) you probably would be disappointed as they haven’t been as reliable as you might have been led to believe.’

1 comment so far. Why not have your say?

Maverick

Dec 14, 2012 at 13:06

Caelainn - You should be comparing the trust's share price rise over a year (25.0%) with the FTSE All-Share Index rise over the same period (14.2%). You have to compare apples with apples.

You would have an impossible task comparing the net asset values of the constituents of the All-Share with the net asset value of the trust. It would be a complete waste of time anyway, as you could not buy the trust's shares at their net asset value even if you wanted to.

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