Citywire for Financial Professionals
Stay connected:

View the article online at http://citywire.co.uk/money/article/a887778

Webster exits Aberdeen as trust changes name

Phil Webster, manager of Aberdeen Smaller Companies High Income investment trust, departs ahead of name change for the fund.

 
Webster exits Aberdeen as trust changes name

Phil Webster, manager of Aberdeen Smaller Companies High Income (ASCH ) investment trust, has left Aberdeen Asset Management ahead of a name change for the fund.

Webster joined Aberdeen in 2004 and took on the £43 million trust, then known as Shires Smaller Companies, in 2008, following Aberdeen’s acquisition of Glasgow Investment Managers in the previous year.

He has been replaced by Jonathan Allison, who joined Aberdeen from Morgan Stanley in 2005 as an assistant fund manager in the pan-European equities team, according to Morningstar.

The trust is the second best performing fund out of 12 in the AIC’s UK Equity and Bond Income sector, with a five-year total return of 75%. This is some way behind the leader Acorn Income (AIF ), which has generated 165% growth with a more highly geared split capital structure.

News of Webster’s departure after 12 years with Aberdeen came in the trust’s annual results published this month.

Chairman Carolan Dobson thanked the manager for his work and said he had a particularly strong record in protecting the fund in falling markets.
She added the board already had a good working relationship with his successor.

Dobson also revealed that the trust would drop the word ‘High’ from its name following next month’s annual general meeting. Its 3.5% yield is the third lowest in the sector and way below the average of 6.9%, according to AIC data.

‘In addition, our trust seeks to derive its income primarily from equities and therefore generally holds less bonds that more commonly found in other high income funds,’ Dobson said.

In recent years Webster had reduced the proportion of the fund in fixed income stocks to a record low of 3.3% over concern at the bond bubble caused by central bank quantitative easing policies.

Last year the portfolio of 45 shares he ran produced a total return of 14.3%, helped by gains in industrials, pharmaceuticals and food retailers and being underweight oil, gas and mining stocks.

Although real estate holdings in Helical Bar (HLCL) and Hansteen (HSTN) did poorly, takeover bids for Domino Printing and Anite boosted returns with the profits re-invested in Exova (EXO), an oil services company; Xaar (XAR), the print-head manufacturer; Stock Spirits (STCK), the vodka producer, after its flotation; and Smart Metering Systems (SMSS), a meter rental company serving electricity and gas utilities.

This year Webster also added Burford Capital (BURF), the top-performing legal finance investment company. ‘They have a very strong track record of delivering high returns as their experienced senior legal team cherry-pick the best cases to tilt the outcome in their favour,’ Webster, a former Scotland hockey player, said in his final manager review.

Last year the net asset value of all the trust’s investments increased by 13.4%, just ahead of the FTSE SmallCap index gain of 13%. Shareholder total returns were higher, at 16.6%, as the discount – or gap between the share price and the NAV – narrowed during the year giving investors a performance kicker. However, the discount has widened again from 13% to nearly 20% in the recent stock market turbulence.

The trust declared four dividends during the year totalling 6.65p per share, up 3.1%, covered by earnings of 7.54p, up 5.6% on the previous year.

2 comments so far. Why not have your say?

Keith Cobby

Mar 08, 2016 at 10:22

I hold this trust which is a fairly good performer. It should move to the UK Equity Income sector and the Board should look at options for increasing its size.

report this

Keith Cobby

Mar 08, 2016 at 10:29

Further to my earlier comment, Aberdeen should rationalise their trusts. They have Dunedin Income, Murray Income, and Shires all in the UK Equity Income sector.

report this

leave a comment

Please sign in here or register here to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.

News sponsored by:

A comprehensive approach to investing in Europe


Making the most out of Europe’s potential means seeing things differently. Learn more about how BlackRock’s focused approach to investing in Europe helps investors unlock the continent’s vast potential.

Watch Now

The Citywire Guide to Investment Trusts


In this guide to investment trusts, produced in association with Aberdeen Asset Management, we spoke to many of the leading experts in the field to find out more.

Watch Now

More about this:

Look up the shares

  • Helical Bar PLC
    Register or Sign in to receive email alerts for items in your favourites whenever we write about them
  • Hansteen Holdings PLC
    Register or Sign in to receive email alerts for items in your favourites whenever we write about them
  • Exova Group PLC
    Register or Sign in to receive email alerts for items in your favourites whenever we write about them
  • Xaar PLC
    Register or Sign in to receive email alerts for items in your favourites whenever we write about them
  • Stock Spirits Group PLC
    Register or Sign in to receive email alerts for items in your favourites whenever we write about them
  • Smart Metering Systems PLC
    Register or Sign in to receive email alerts for items in your favourites whenever we write about them
  • Burford Capital Ltd
    Register or Sign in to receive email alerts for items in your favourites whenever we write about them

Look up the investment trusts

More from us

Archive

Today's articles

Tools from Citywire Money

From the Forums

+ Start a new discussion

Weekly email from The Lolly

Get simple, easy ways to make more from your money. Just enter your email address below

An error occured while subscribing your email. Please try again later.

Thank you for registering for your weekly newsletter from The Lolly.

Keep an eye out for us in your inbox, and please add noreply@emails.citywire.co.uk to your safe senders list so we don't get junked.

Read more...

The Expert View: Rio Tinto, Stagecoach & Carillion

by Michelle McGagh on Dec 08, 2016 at 00:01

Sorry, this link is not
quite ready yet