July and August are seeing much quieter markets and reduced volumes.
The pattern remains the same, American stocks have risen a further 5% and just touched a new all-time high, while UK and European stocks drifted down. The US dollar weakened further, taking the sterling/dollar rate up by more than 4%, back to January levels. This puts pressure on the price of units in the Fund, listed in sterling, to leave it slightly lower over the period.
It was a quiet period for transactions. We added further to the new holding in Essity when their stock dipped again in mid-July and, modestly, to the holding in LVMH (still the company that we most want to own in the luxury goods space), when their stock came off at the end of July.
The major staple goods companies put in a positive performance this month, led by Unilever after their figures were significantly better than expected, boosted by hygiene products and demand for ice cream. But the proposed unification of Unilever’s structure to a UK base is now under threat of a huge fine from the Netherlands, undoubtedly politically inspired and probably in breach of European law. Pharmaceuticals were generally dull with Stryker and Lonza Group unchanged and Roche down around 5%. M3 Inc. provided a dramatic feature with a rise of close to 30% after first quarter figures beat the highest estimates.
The Fund’s holdings in technology related companies put in a more mixed, though generally positive performance, Alphabet and Microsoft (busily negotiating to buy TikTok’s US business) were marginally ahead while Amazon and Apple put in another strong performance after their figures. There was limited inspiration from the financials with most of the holdings flat to slightly lower but Berkshire Hathaway rose around 8% after reporting higher second quarter results and that they have bought-in around $1.5 billion of their stock.