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Investment Trust Discounts: bargains in the market sell-off

Investment Trust Discounts: bargains in the market sell-off

If you have been sitting on cash waiting to take advantage of the much anticipated market correction then yesterday’s and today’s big falls are the opportunity you have waited for.

Inevitably, investment trusts – many of which use gearing or borrowing to maximise long-term returns – have been among the fastest decliners.

However, if you think this squall will pass once frothy valuations have been blown away, then these setbacks could provide buying opportunities.

In a special update of our Friday ‘Trust Watch’ feature we have looked at the latest Z-score data from Numis Securities as of yesterday’s close and where possible compared it with today’s data from Morningstar.

Just to recap, a Z-score is a measure used by analysts to put an investment trust share price - and any discount or premium to net asset value it trades at - in historical context. Roughly speaking, a Z-score of -2 or below is considered ‘cheap’ while a Z-score of 2 more is getting 'expensive'.

Prices are volatile today but this is how we think things stand.

Trusts investing in property, bonds, smaller companies and emerging markets are prominent in the list of potential bargains today.

Tritax Big Box (BBOX), the real estate investment trust that caught investors imagination with its portfolio of revenue generating distribution centres, has shed its premium rating as bonds and long-dated assets have fallen at the prospect of higher interest rates.

At yesterday’s close they stood at a tiny 0.4% premium over Numis’ estimate of NAV per share of 143p compared with a 6% premium a week ago. That gave them a lowly Z-score of -3.1, according to Numis.

Shares in the £1.9 billion listed fund are down 2.6p or 1.8% today at 141p after the company announced it was investing £81.8 million to forward fund the construction of a new distribution centre in Corby that has been pre-let to Eddie Stobart. The shares yield 4.5%.

Sticking with property, NewRiver Retail (NRR) looks to be trading on an unusual 4% discount to NAV which is indicated by its ‘cheap’ Z-score of -3.7..

Henderson Diversified Income (HDIV), the high-yielding bond and loan fund run by John Pattullo and Jenna Barnard, dropped to a 1.8% discount at Monday’s close from its previous 4.8% premium with a Z-score of -3.9. Shares in the £168 million trust are down 1.2p or 1.3% to 87.7p today and yield 5.2%.

Turning to smaller companies, ScotGems (SGEM), the global small-cap trust launched last summer by Stewart Investors, has seen its discount widen to 9.4% compared to a 3.7% gap below its NAV previously. It looks inexpensive on a Z-score of -3.5.

Chelverton Small Companies Dividend (SDV) – a top-performing UK equity income fund, has also slipped to a modest discount as investors baulk at its highly geared structure in a falling market. A 3.1% discount to NAV from its previous 1.5% premium gives it Z-score of -0.7.

Another small-cap trust with a weaker rating is JPMorgan Smaller Companies (JMI) whose shares are trading 16% below NAV compared to the previous discount of 12.4%. This is still narrower than the 18% average discount of the past year so its Z-score of 0.9 is actually mildly expensive.

By contrast, Jupiter Emerging & Frontier Income (JEFI) is genuinely cheaper with a -2.9 Z-score after its shares slipped to a 2.5% discount from a 2.5% premium above NAV a week ago. The shares have firmed 0.67p or 0.62% to 108.7p today.

If you have a stomach for China, JPMorgan Chinese (JMC) is getting cheap with its discount having widened to 13% from 8% a week ago to give it a Z-score of -0.3 at yesterday’s close. The shares – which have outperformed its larger rival Fidelity China Special Situations (FCSS) – are down 17p or 5.5% to 295p today so, as with all the Z-scores I have quoted, that may have changed.

Otherwise the latest ‘cheap’ list from Numis includes trusts we saw in Friday’s table with City Merchants High Yield (CMHY), Hadrian’s Wall Secured Investment (HWSL) and Schroder European Real Estate (SERE) standing on discounts and Z-scores of between -3.3 and -6.6.



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