Fund Profile


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.

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Witan offers investors an actively managed but diversified exposure to global equities. Since the adoption of the current ‘manager of managers’ approach the trust has outperformed its benchmark and delivered dividend growth well ahead of inflation. In our opinion, Witan provides the benefits of active management but with reduced key-man or manager risk.

Underlying managers are chosen by Witan’s executive team to complement each other, but not necessarily to provide exposure to all ‘styles’ of investing. However, the overall structure of the portfolio is designed to have ‘core’ managers representing around 75% of the Portfolio. Within this, 65% is allocated to global managers and around 10% (+/- 5%) are expected to be specifically UK-focussed managers (broadly reflecting the UK component of the benchmark). The remaining specialist portfolio of 25% represents managers who the team believe have the potential to deliver superior growth through regional or sectoral expertise, but also can include direct holdings in other collective funds and trusts.

Witan was positioned for continued economic expansion at the start of 2020, and so the impact of COVID-19 on markets hit the NAV hard and led to the Discount widening. The executive team made some decisive changes to the portfolio. Currently, we think the underlying portfolio is well balanced, with exposure to companies with enduring cash-flows, higher growth companies, and undervalued, cyclical businesses. This helps explain the good relative Performance over the last 12 months despite a changeable market environment.

Notwithstanding the pressures felt by many trusts, Witan’s board increased the 2020 Dividend by 1.9% taking the ten-year compounded growth to 9.6% annualised. Witan currently yields 2.3% on an historic basis.

Analyst's View

Witan had been making strong progress as an attractive way for investors to get a diversified exposure to global equities, reflected in good performance and a narrow discount prior to 2020. As was the case for many trusts, Witan was wrong-footed by the pandemic and performance suffered. However, with gearing now built back up (10% as at 30/04/2021) and the roster of managers performing strongly, we think Witan is back in business.

The changes made during 2020 can be seen as having future-proofed the manager roster in our opinion, evidenced by the fact that, despite a strong performance from value and more cyclical stocks over the past six months, the NAV has outperformed the benchmark for ten out of the past 12 months, and by c. 15% over that period.

Witan’s nimble approach led by the executive team means it is relatively easy to rotate the manager roster to keep up with market events, expectations or take in new, emerging opportunities. One such example is the team’s interest in sustainable investment as a way to generate excess returns, which we would expect to see grow as a proportion of the portfolio as time goes on.

Witan trades at a discount of 6.5%, wider than the five-year average of 4% and the current sector weighted average discount of 2.8%. Now that Witan is delivering outperformance again, we believe we could see the discount narrow. With the board engaged in protecting discount volatility on the downside, the current discount may prove an attractive entry point.

Bull bear
'Manager of managers' approach offers diversified exposure within a clear portfolio structure Higher exposure to UK than global peers, means this could weigh on relative performance
Refreshed roster of managers, with an increasingly global approach Poor performance in H1 2020 means long-term track record was affected
A reliable dividend, progressively growing for the past 46 years Gearing can exacerbate the downside, as was the case in 2020
Continue to Portfolio

Fund History

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19 Jul 2023 Fund Analysis
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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*
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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…
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...
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