The May bank holidays and Coronation were a welcome break for what has been a busy month for the portfolio and a busy earnings season, which globally has been led by US tech.
We added modestly to both Spirax-Sarco Engineering and Experian over the period. Spirax, the thermal-led engineering business, announced solid results with organic sales growth leading the way, in particular following the positive integration of the acquisitions of Vulcanic and Durex Industries over the past couple of years. Experian was topped up after it was caught up in the crossfire that affected the Financials sector post the crisis of confidence in Swiss and US banking.
In a similar vein, we decided to sell Barclays, after a decade-long holding in the fund. We have long-believed that Barclays was the best bank in the UK market, and the only one with a ‘substantial’ investment banking division, but ultimately share price performance hasn’t kept up with this school of thought. We much prefer the quality growth aspect of the more diversified financials in the sector (exchanges, asset managers, credit agencies etc) and we will be focusing our allocation to these businesses.
We have spoken at length regarding the potential Dechra Pharmaceuticals takeover by EQT, but will reiterate that we believe that any bid at these levels is opportunistic. The PUSU (Put Up or Shut Up) for a firm offer deadline has been extended until the 2nd June and we hope to engage with the board in the interim.
The majority of our businesses have reported or are due to report their earnings, and broadly they have been promising. Fever-Tree in particular had a long overdue positive statement. The soft drinks makers US sales are starting to kick into gear as are most areas ex-UK (which remains sluggish). All continuing to plan, USA and EU will be two-thirds of sales with plenty of scope to keep growing. And finally, long-held stalwart of the fund, Halma, announced a typical purchase of Sewertronics Ltd, a wastewater pipe repair business based in Poland, utilising robots and UV light guns; think Ghostbusters of the sewage world…
The above article has been prepared for investment professionals. Any other readers should note this content does not constitute advice or a solicitation to buy, sell, or hold any investment. We strongly recommend speaking to an investment adviser before taking any action based on the information contained in this article.
Please also note the value of investments and the income you get from them may fall as well as rise, and there is no certainty that you will get back the amount of your original investment. You should also be aware that past performance may not be a reliable guide to future performance.