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Fund Profile

Disclaimer

Disclosure – Non-Independent Marketing Communication

This is a non-independent marketing communication commissioned by Witan. 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.

Overview
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Overview

Witan follows a highly active ‘manager of managers’ approach, using a range of third-party managers to gain exposure to global equity markets. Currently, the company consists of ten managers, who run a collection of concentrated portfolios under the overall asset allocation plan set by CEO Andrew Bell and the management team. Alongside this, the executive team runs up to 12.5% of the portfolio, investing in specialist collective funds and smaller managers that could be constituents in the future.

The trust’s objective is to generate long-term NAV growth and to deliver income at a rate greater than inflation. Since adopting the multi-manager approach in 2004, the trust has performed strongly. Over five and ten-year periods, to the end of 2018, Witan has delivered an NAV total return of 52.1% and 207.1% respectively, compared with the benchmark’s 44.6% and 163.4%. For most of 2018, Witan’s returns were positive and ahead of the benchmark. However, Q4 hit the trust particularly hard and the macro and political uncertainty, coupled with the trust's gearing, meant the trust ended in negative territory.

Alongside capital appreciation, the trust offers investors a decent income stream. The trust has an enviable track record of 44 years of dividend increases, and the 2018 dividend of 23.5p was 11.9% greater than the 21p paid in 2017 and once again greater than the rate of inflation and fully funded by earnings. As of the most recent annual report (December 2018), the trust has revenue reserves that cover the dividend by 1.5x, adding further reassurance to income dependent investors.

Over the past few years, the discount has narrowed significantly. After trading on a discount of close to 10% to NAV in 2016, the trust now trades at a discount of 2.5%. The board places a high degree of importance on creating sustainable liquidity at or near to asset value and has buyback authority which it continues to use as necessary.

Kepler View

Witan boasts a strong long-term track record, and the team has a proven ability to identify strong managers for the fund’s allocations. Alongside this, since the change of strategy in 2004, Andrew Bell has shown the ability to add considerable value through the direct holdings portfolio. This was shown in 2018, where the trust beat its benchmark with little trouble. Additionally, through having 2.5% of the portfolio in less well-known managers, the team is able to keep an eye on the funds of tomorrow, getting to know the management in more detail and making sure they are always one step ahead should a current manager need to be replaced.

We continue to see Witan as the perfect vehicle for investors who want a diversified, core global holding, without the fuss. It could also serve as a “one-stop shop” for novice investors who want diversified exposure without having to manage their own allocations.

Despite the multi-manager approach, the trust sits in line with the rest of peer group for fees and charges, meaning that the common worry of being ‘double charged’ with a fund of funds is dispelled.


BULL
BEAR
A well-defined and simple to understand investment approach means that investors are able to benefit from a diversified array of concentrated portfolios
As a highly active global trust it may lack appeal for investors who want to do their own asset allocation
Since the change in strategy in 2004, the trust has delivered strong returns
Due to poor performance in Q4, the trust was unable to outperform the benchmark in 2018
A reliable dividend, progressively growing for the past 44 years

Continue to Portfolio

Fund History

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30 Dec 2022 Fund Analysis
Short-term challenges do nothing to dim the long-term prospects for Witan…
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03 Aug 2022 Fund Analysis
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30 Mar 2022 You say tomato…
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08 Dec 2021 Fund Analysis
Witan continues to adapt to a changing investment environment...
19 Aug 2021 Pandemic immunity
We ask which global equity trusts have outperformed through the different stages of the pandemic…
16 Jun 2021 A better class of travel*
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09 Jun 2021 Fund Analysis
A solid period of outperformance means WTAN is back in business...
16 Dec 2020 Fund Analysis
Witan has bounced back from Q1 2020, making the 7.6% discount potentially attractive…
07 Sep 2020 Fund Analysis
WTAN has had a challenging 2020, but a refreshed line-up of managers makes the 7.8% discount potentially attractive…
03 Dec 2019 Fund Analysis
Highly active multi-manager approach offering a ‘one-stop shop’ for capital appreciation and income…
23 Oct 2019 Sail away: the best trusts to escape the UK
We look under the hoods of Global sector trusts to see which offer the best diversification prospects for UK investors...
15 Apr 2019 Fund Analysis
Witan follows a highly active ‘manager of managers’ approach, using a range of third-party managers to gain exposure to global equity markets...
26 Jul 2018 Fund Analysis
This well known global generalist has been hurt by its UK exposure this year as the Brexit debacle trundles on...
25 Jul 2018 The Endurance Growth Portfolio
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14 Dec 2017 Race to the bottom
Ahead of the new PRIIPS rules we examine the progress investment trust boards are making in reducing costs...
24 May 2017 Fund Analysis
12 Jul 2016 Fund Analysis
12 Jul 2016 Taking the bull by the horns
We examine the boards which have done most to fight for their shareholders' interests in an unforgiving arena...
12 Jul 2016 Anarchy in the UK
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20 Apr 2016 A wild ride for Endurance Growth
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19 Apr 2016 Fund Analysis
19 Apr 2016 Brexit discount slump is a buying opportunity
Analysts believe a sharp bounce is likely if the public comes down in favour of a 'remain' vote.
15 Mar 2016 First class trusts at knockout discounts
A fire-sale by a fund of investment trusts dumping assets worth more than £650m is good news for discount hunters...
13 Oct 2015 Analyst
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07 Jul 2015 Fund Analysis
10 Jun 2015 The Endurance Growth Portfolio
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Current Site Kepler Trust Intelligence is produced by the investment companies team at Kepler Partners and is the UK’s premier source of detailed qualitative research on investment trusts. Absolute Hedge is a market leading UCITS research database providing proprietary research on funds, themes and strategies in the UCITS space. Kepler Liquid Strategies is a Dublin domiciled UCITS fund platform featuring a number of best-of-breed fund managers. Kepler Partners is a corporate advisory and asset raising boutique specialising in the regulated funds market in Europe and investment trusts in the UK.