Fund Profile


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abrdn Asia Focus (AAS) owns a concentrated portfolio of companies from the lower end of the market-cap spectrum, from across the Asian region, excluding Japan and Australasia. Hugh Young, who has been involved with the trust since launch in 1995, is retiring at the end of 2023 and leaving the trust in the hands of existing co-managers Flavia Cheong, Head of Asia Pacific Equities at abrdn, and Gabriel Sacks, who has managed the trust with Hugh since 2018. They are joined on the management team by Xin-Yao Ng.

There will be no changes to the strategy though. The managers have a strong focus on quality to construct their portfolio and are highly active versus their small-cap benchmark. The active share is typically north of 90%, as the managers implement the disciplined and selective stock-picking strategy that is common across all portfolios managed by the Asia Pacific Equities team. This aims to uncover overlooked small-cap companies benefitting from the dramatic boom in Asia’s household wealth. The trust also pays a recently enhanced and progressive Dividend.

Performance has been largely driven by stock selection, and AAS has delivered strong returns over the benchmark in the past five years. Unlike in developed markets, the smaller company benchmark has significantly outperformed the larger-cap equivalent over a number of years, thanks in part to lower exposure to China. The managers argue this also demonstrates the growth opportunity in smaller companies and the diversification it offers in the region.

Despite the good performance, the shares of the trust trade at a wide Discount to NAV. The current level is one standard deviation wider than the five-year average, and wider than the peer group. The board has begun share buybacks in the past year to help narrow the discount.

Kepler View

AAS has delivered impressive returns in the past year, especially when compared to larger-cap peers (see Performance). We believe this is an excellent demonstration of the benefits of the asset class more generally and the trust within it, namely exposure to the best growth themes in the region and diversification from the typical large-cap names achieved through passive exposure.

In our opinion, the change of Management shouldn’t affect the appeal of the trust. Whilst the experience of Hugh Young is a loss, the managers have always advocated their team-based approach, supported by one of the most reputable teams in the industry. Flavia, Gabriel and Xin-Yao all have first-hand experience on the trust which we believe should offer reassurance.

We believe AAS is particularly compelling at present due to the wide Discount the shares are currently trading on. Whilst this has persisted for a number of years, it has widened recently, arguably as a result of negative sentiment towards global markets. The board has taken steps to influence this through share buybacks, which we believe is a positive sign. Not only that, but the portfolio itself has significantly better quality characteristics than the index but is trading at a valuation close to its own benchmark. We would argue this offers investors the opportunity to access a differentiated, lower-risk and higher-quality portfolio at a notable discount to its market value, which could make for a very attractive entry point for long-term investors.


  • Differentiated investment universe with high growth potential
  • Trust trades at a wide discount with share buybacks recently beginning
  • Active approach brings alpha-generating potential


  • Asian small-caps may prove sensitive to a weak global economy
  • Active approach magnifies impact of bad stock picks as well as good stock picks
  • Gearing can amplify downside as well as upside
Continue to Portfolio

Fund History

18 Jul 2024 abrdn Asia Focus
Gabriel Sacks
Join this webinar as part of our July online series 'Small caps - take two' hosted by the team at Kepler Trust Intelligence...
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25 Jun 2024 Fund Analysis
The strong performance of AAS, and Asian smaller companies, has gone under the radar…
07 Mar 2024 Asia small cap investing with AAS – Podcast: Trust Issues #26
We talk to Manager Gabriel Sacks about valutions, performance, and more...
30 Nov 2023 Fund Analysis
AAS outperforming its benchmark, which is itself beating large-caps index…
05 Jul 2023 Silk Road Strife
The Asian narrative has been dominated by the India vs China debate, but on which side of the line have investment trust managers fallen?
03 May 2023 Fund Analysis
AAS offers a lower-risk approach to the high-growth potential of Asian smaller companies…
11 Jan 2023 Solving the Rubik’s Cube
We reveal the winners of our investment trust ratings for 2023…
02 Nov 2022 The stability dividend
Our analysis shows that trusts paying a regular income suffer less discount volatility...
11 Oct 2022 Fund Analysis
A further ramp-up towards Chinese stocks is expected after recent policy changes…
20 Apr 2022 On the hunt
We review discounts in the investment trust space against a backdrop of harsh conditions...
04 Feb 2022 Fund Analysis
AAS’ board is building on a period of strong performance with crucial improvements to the strategy…
29 Sep 2021 Slings and arrows
Our analysts argue over whether it’s better to take arms against volatility in a portfolio, or to simply suffer it…
28 Jul 2021 Fund Analysis
AAS offers exposure to exciting growth companies in Asia, and has traditionally done very well after global crises…
14 Jul 2021 Grade inflation
We look at how our discounted opportunities portfolio has done in the first half of the year and update on the performance of our long-term rated funds…
30 Jun 2021 Inflation – a real threat or hot air?
Two of our analysts ask whether recent high inflation numbers indicate something long-lasting and troubling is happening…
14 Apr 2021 Wide Boys
We review our portfolio of chonky discounts as one star performer hits its target…
10 Mar 2021 Spring Conference '21
Audio and presentations from 21 of the UK’s leading investment trust managers…
04 Mar 2021 Slides and Audio: Aberdeen Standard Asia Focus
Download the presentation and listen to the audio from our 'Ideas for your ISA' Spring Conference on 02 March...
04 Feb 2021 Fund Analysis
AAS’s quality approach to Asian small caps saw it outperform after the last two global crises…
24 Sep 2020 Bull in the Chinese market?
The Chinese stock market has been a notable winner thus far in 2020. Should investors stay the course, or take profits?
20 Aug 2020 Fund Analysis
AAS’ high quality portfolio should be robust in a troubled economic environment...
05 Mar 2020 Don't panic: the case for investing in Asia this ISA season
We examine the relationship between stock market and GDP growth, before debating the case for an allocation to Asia...
11 Feb 2020 Fund Analysis
AAS has been reinvigorated following Hugh Young taking more personal control…
21 Aug 2019 All change: a closer look at the AIC's revised sectors
We examine the AIC's revised sector classifications and discuss whether further improvements could be made...
05 Aug 2019 Fund Analysis
Aberdeen Standard Asia Focus (AAS) aims to generate long-term capital growth from a valuation-sensitive approach to Asian smaller companies..
01 May 2019 Sweet or sour?
Three months in, we check up on the progress of our discount opportunities portfolio...
13 Feb 2019 Sweet treats
The eight trusts with strong prospects, but wide discounts...
04 Feb 2019 Fund Analysis
The trust returned to form last year with strong relative returns as its focus on quality was rewarded in rough markets...
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