Aberdeen Standard Asia Focus

Last updated 05 August 2019

Aberdeen Standard Asia Focus (AAS) aims to generate long-term capital growth from a valuation-sensitive approach to Asian smaller companies..

Disclosure – Non-Independent Marketing Communication

This is a non-independent marketing communication commissioned by Aberdeen Standard Asia Focus. The report has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is not subject to any prohibition on the dealing ahead of the dissemination of investment research.

Aberdeen Standard Asia Focus

Aberdeen Standard Asia Focus (AAS), formerly Aberdeen Asian Smaller Companies, aims to generate long-term capital growth by investing in high-quality Asian smaller companies. The management team has a valuation-sensitive approach and aims to hold companies for the long run.

Relative performance has been strong over the past year, with the trust outperforming the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex-Japan Small Cap index by 5%, although shareholders have made almost twice that thanks to the narrowing discount. The trust lost much less than the market during the slump in the fourth quarter of 2018, with the defensive qualities of its portfolio having the expected effect. It also gained more than the market during the May and June 2019 rally thanks to its large overweight to India, which led Asian markets following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emphatic election victory.

Hugh Young, one of the most experienced fund managers in the Asian market, was named lead manager in November last year as part of an overhaul requested by the board. He has cut the number of holdings and increased the concentration in the highest-conviction ideas in order to increase the potential for outperformance. The strategy, however, remains the same. The focus is on identifying companies with high-quality financials and management, and buying in at attractive valuations and holding for the long run.

The approach is highly active, with some significant over and underweights in terms of country, sector and holding. For example, the trust has long been underweight China, largely due to corporate governance concerns. On the other hand, its overweight to India is a multi-year feature and likely to remain. The manager’s judicious use of increasing gearing into the fourth quarter of last year has also helped performance.

The discount has responded somewhat to the overhaul and the improving performance, with the average for 2019 being 11.7% compared to 14% for 2018. However, it still trades 11.5% below par at the time of writing.

The trust yields 1.5% and, while this is not high, the track record of dividend growth is strong, with 6.8% compound growth per annum achieved over the past five years. In fact, the trust has managed to grow or maintain its dividend in each year since launch in 1995 – excluding 1997 and 1998 – and investors at launch would now be earning a 17p dividend on their initial investment of 100p, representing a compound growth of around 7%.

Thomas McMahon
Thomas is a senior investment trust analyst and joined Kepler in April 2018. Previously he was senior analyst at FE Invest, where he was responsible for fund selection for a range of model portfolios. He covered all asset classes over time, but has particular experience with emerging markets and fixed income as well as UK smaller companies funds. He has a degree in Philosophy from Warwick University and is a CFA charterholder.

Fund History

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Key facts

Investment objective

Aberdeen Standard Asia Focus aims to maximise total return to shareholders over the long term from a portfolio made up predominantly of smaller quoted companies (with a market capitalisation of up to approximately US$1.5 billion at the time of investment) in the economies of Asia and Australasia, excluding Japan

As at:

26/07/2019

Group/Investment

Aberdeen Standard Asia Focus

Ticker

AAS

Management Company

Aberdeen Standard Investments Inc.

Manager Name

Hugh Young;Gabriel Sacks;Pruksa Iamthongthong;

Association of Investment Companies (AIC) Sector

Asia Pacific Smaller Companies

12 Mo Yield

1.5%

Dividend Distribution Frequency

Annually

Latest Market Capitalisation

£386,794,579

Latest Net Gearing (Cum Fair)

3%

Latest Ongoing Charge Ex Perf Fee

1.24%

Turnover Ratio

10.0%

Shares Outstanding

33,916,849

(Discount)/ Premium (Cum Fair)

-11.5%

Daily Closing Price

1140p


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This report has been issued by Kepler Partners LLP.  The analyst who has prepared this report is aware that Kepler Partners LLP has a relationship with the company covered in this report and/or a conflict of interest which may impair the objectivity of the research.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results. The value of investments can fall as well as rise and you may get back less than you invested when you decide to sell your investments. It is strongly recommended that if you are a private investor independent financial advice should be taken before making any investment or financial decision.

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