The past five weeks have seen some significant moves for a number of the holdings in the Esk Global Equity Fund, though little change in the Fund’s price.
Sterling has been moving with each perceived shift in Brexit negotiations but, overall, is little changed.
We made some relatively minor changes to the pharmaceutical holdings over the period. Illumina announced the purchase of Grail, a cancer detection company, whose investors include Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. Illumina know Grail well, currently owning around 12% of the company. Their stock fell sharply on the news and we took the opportunity to add to the holding. Another US pharmaceutical whose stock price has weakened is Gilead Sciences, despite President Trump’s treatment with Remdesivir during his recent bout of COVID-19, we added to the holding. On the opposite tack, we reduced our holding in M3, Inc. by around one third, their stock price had doubled over the year and we felt it prudent to take some profit.
The rest of the portfolio saw some contrasting moves. Sticking with the pharmaceuticals, Roche Holding slipped back after Q3 sales figures fell short of estimates thanks to declines in older prescription drugs, while Lonza Group provided an encouraging report to shareholders suggesting double-digit sales growth and their stock rose. The financial sectors continue to be a drag on markets, we suffered from weakness in Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Swiss Re, but Morgan Stanley were up after their Q3 figures revealed strong growth in FICC sales and revenue. T Rowe Price were a strong feature, their stock reaching new all-time highs this month. Euronext were little changed overall after securing Borsa Italiana for around €4.3 billion.
LVMH was a positive feature reporting a return to double-digit sales growth in fashion and leather goods, led by Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior and Hermes was a notable beneficiary. L’Oreal stock was also strong as they announced their new Chief Executive, Nicolas Hieronimus, a veteran of the company and currently deputy CEO. Our industrial holdings were also a positive feature this month, we saw good gains from Nordson and Paccar in the US and from Nidec Corporation in Japan.