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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

WTAN has an objective to grow capital and income from global equities. It does so using a differentiated multi-manager approach, combining a range of core managers with a number of specialist managers, which offer exposure to other interesting areas of the market. Uniquely, allocations are set by WTAN’s directly-employed executive team, comprising Andrew Bell and James Hart, and the independent board.

WTAN aims to provide a one-stop shop, with selection and monitoring of underlying managers as well as a directly-invested portfolio of other investment trusts, providing a broadly-diversified portfolio and a high active share, when compared to the benchmark. The highly-diversified portfolio is designed to provide all the benefits of active management but with few of the disadvantages, such as key-man risk.

WTAN is very different to other global trusts or multi-manager products due to the in-house executive team which is aligned fully with WTAN’s shareholders. Allocations are set by WTAN’s directly-employed executive team, comprising Andrew Bell and James Hart, and the independent board. As we discuss in the Portfolio section, the benefits of the in-house executive team can be neatly illustrated by their activity during recent volatility in markets, which has presented plenty of interesting opportunities to take advantage of, for the long term.

WTAN is one of the leading trusts of the AIC’s ‘dividend heroes’, having delivered 47 years of dividend increases. Over the past ten years, dividend growth has averaged 8.8% per annum. At the current share price, WTAN yields 2.6% on a historic basis and the board has indicated that with earnings having substantially improved relative to last year, it expects to see further growth in the dividend.

Analyst's View

Whilst WTAN’s long-term performance numbers are good, the trust has, unarguably, struggled in more recent times. This has been largely during very challenging and, we hope, unique periods for equity markets. As we discuss in the Performance section, Q1 2020 and Q1 2022 have had for very different reasons outsized impacts on WTAN’s performance statistics, exacerbated by gearing (see Gearing section). On the other hand, the comparison with the AIC global peer group weighted average may be more indicative, which shows only a very slight degree of underperformance over five years.

In our view, the trust’s underperformance in the recent past does not signify any fundamental issues with Witan’s process or manager line-up. Indeed, the engine which drives long-term performance is a diversified stable of successful and well-established managers (see Portfolio section). As we discuss in the ESG section, the board and executive team are leading the charge towards investing only in what they view to be ‘sustainable’ companies by 2030 or before. Over time, WTAN’s overall exposure will be dynamic and able to adapt to the investment environment as circumstances change.

WTAN’s track record of dividend increases and the extent of its reserves should, in our view, give confidence for the long-term dividend trajectory. On the other hand, WTAN’s discount continues to lag and, at 6.6%, has been supported partially by buybacks. As we discuss in the Discount section, it is possible that, should performance start to improve and confidence returns to markets, the shares could experience a rerating.

Bull

  • ‘Manager of managers’-approach offers diversified exposure within a clear portfolio structure
  • Majority of global managers complemented by specialists means portfolio is likely to be differentiated compared to other global trusts
  • A reliable dividend, progressively growing for the past 47 years

Bear

  • Structurally higher exposure to UK than many global peers means this could influence relative performance
  • Poor performance in H1 2020 and H1 2022 means long-term track record has been affected
  • Gearing can exacerbate the downside
Continue to Portfolio

Fund History

19 Jul 2023 Fund Analysis
2023 has, so far, seen a return to outperformance, but the discount remains wide by historical standards…
12 Jul 2023 Many hands make light work
We break down how multi-managers have performed over the past five years and their positioning for the inevitable uncertainty that lies ahead…
30 Dec 2022 Fund Analysis
Short-term challenges do nothing to dim the long-term prospects for Witan…
17 Aug 2022 The world for sale
While investment trusts are lagging their open-ended cousins in the global sector, their discounts may provide an attractive entry point...
03 Aug 2022 Fund Analysis
WTAN’s differentiated approach remains attractive despite short term performance challenges…
30 Mar 2022 You say tomato…
Do it yourself or put it into a global fund and leave it to the experts - our analyst debate the merits of each approach...
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*
Sharing many features of a traditional family office, investment trusts offer ordinary investors a cost-effective solution to managing family wealth...
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…
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...
15 Aug 2018 The income edge
Last year saw investment trusts soar in popularity among both retail investors and wealth managers. We examine why this has happened, as well as the structural advantages of investment trusts for income-hungry investors...
25 Jul 2018 Fund Analysis
This well known global generalist has had a tough run in recent months but a higher active share could prove interesting...
13 Mar 2018 Fund Analysis
Witan is one of the UK’s largest investment trusts and aims for capital growth and an income which rises faster than inflation using a multi-manager approach...
14 Dec 2017 Race to the bottom
How are investment trust boards doing, in bringing down their costs?
16 Aug 2017 Fund Analysis
A global equity trust run via a manager of managers approach that has delivered consistent outperformance over the medium term...
View all

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