We have not made any changes to the holdings in the Esk Global Equity Fund portfolio over the month since we last reported but it has been an eventful period for a number of our companies.
Overall, the Fund’s unit price was up around 4% against the backdrop of falling prices for a number of the tech stocks (and financials) but gains elsewhere.
The NASDAQ powered ahead again through late August to reach a peak on 2 September (at which point is was up 34% over the year) before a sharp sell-off, which took the index down 10% over the following week. This impacted a number of holdings - Apple and Amazon were both down 5%, Alphabet, Ansys and Microsoft were also negative, though to a lesser extent. A surprise positive came from Oracle, which climbed around 9% after apparently winning the competition for TikTok’s US assets in a complex transaction that we hope won’t prove to be a poisoned chalice.
The Materials sector produced some strong performance: Novozymes rose 15% as their CEO shook-up the management team and bought more stock for himself, Shin-Etsu continued their strong run, up a further 10%, and Rio Tinto continued to climb despite removing their CEO in the wake of the debacle of the destruction of the Juukan Gorge caves in Western Australia. The industrial holdings also provided some positive features: Nordson after Q3 figures, Nidec Corp continuing their strong run, along with the Swedish holding companies, Investor AB and Industrivarden.
Staples provided few surprises but the pharmaceuticals were active. Stryker Corp built on their recovery with a 14% gain, Gilead was unchanged, having initially reacted poorly to their proposed $21 billion takeover of Immunomedics. Illumina has been quiet but sank yesterday on reports that they were about to purchase Grail, a cancer testing company backed by Jeff Bezos, for around $8 billion. Both LVMH and Hermes rose sharply over the period, despite LVMH walking away from its proposed take-over of Tiffany.
The financials put in a mixed performance, Standard Chartered fell again and T Rowe Price slipped with the dull market sentiment. Euronext also slipped as bidding for Borsa Italiana (put up for sale by the London Stock Exchange) headed for a conclusion. More positively, Berkshire Hathaway rose 7% against the backdrop of a better market for the reinsurers generally, and close to recovering its all-time high.