- This fund combines exposure to the long-term growth potential of Asian markets, with the attraction of a regular income
- The team focus on businesses they feel can withstand economic turmoil and maintain or grow their dividends through thick and thin
- An Indian business has been added to the portfolio; exposure to Australia has reduced
Our view on this fund
This fund combines exposure to the long-term growth potential of Asian markets, with the attraction of a regular income. Zoe Kan, an experienced investor in Asian equities, was appointed lead manager of the fund in June 2016 and has been involved in its management since launch in 2005. She also has the support of Newton's Emerging and Asian equity team, as well as the group's large bank of analysts.
Newton has demonstrated a commitment to long-term investing in the Asian region and, in our view, the team adopt a sensible investment approach that could lead to good long-term returns. The fund’s historic yield is 3.96%, although yields are not a reliable indicator of future income.
The fund does not currently feature on the Wealth 150 list of our favourite funds across the major sectors. Jason Pidcock, previously a long-standing and experienced member of the team, left the group in 2015, which we felt was a loss for the remaining team. We would prefer to see how Zoe Kan and the team fare for a period of time before reconsidering its position.
Market and fund review
2016 has been quite a year for Asian stock markets. Following a weak start to the year, Asia Pacific markets (excluding Japan) embarked on a strong period of performance, but stumbled following the US Presidential election in November. Some investors now feel interest rates could rise at a faster pace in the US, and this could make the high level of US dollar-denominated debt across the Asian and emerging regions unsustainable. Furthermore, investors have feared Donald Trump’s protectionist policies could harm Asian exports.
While funds investing in the higher risk region, such as Newton Asian Income, have generally delivered good returns over the course of the year, they have not been immune from the recent setback. The performance of the Newton fund against the broader Asian market has also been held back by its focus on higher-quality companies with sustainable earnings that often feature in more defensive areas of the market. Over the year, investors have tended to favour more economically-sensitive areas, such as banks and commodity-related sectors, which the fund has tended to avoid and so has missed out on some of the gains made.
The team at Newton maintain a relatively cautious outlook. They believe many investors have grown complacent over wider economic risks across Asian nations, such as ageing populations, rising debt levels, and the potential devaluation (or weakening) of China’s currency. Therefore they continue to focus on businesses they feel can withstand economic turmoil and maintain or grow their dividends through thick and thin.
Over the longer term the team’s conservative approach means the fund has tended to hold up well during periods of market weakness, although it tends to lag a rapidly rising market.
A focus on dividend-paying companies means the fund has historically avoided investing in India, where companies traditionally focused on reinvesting profits back into their business rather than paying them out to shareholders. However, the team recently took advantage of a recent period of weakness in the Indian stock market, which made share price valuations and yields more attractive (as share prices fall, yields rise and vice versa). Shares in Indiabulls Housing Finance, a leading mortgage finance company, were added to the fund.
Elsewhere, the team marginally reduced the fund’s exposure to Australian companies over the past year. This follows a period of strong performance and, as such, the managers took some profits from these investments. That said, Australia continues to represent a large portion of the portfolio. In the team’s view, many Australian companies are run by strong management teams who allocate capital efficiently and pay attractive dividends. Please note the fund is a concentrated portfolio, which means each holding has a significant impact on performance, but it is a higher-risk approach.
Source: Newton, correct at 30/11/2016
|Annual Percentage Growth|
| Nov 11 -
| Nov 12 -
| Nov 13 -
| Nov 14 -
| Nov 15 -
|Newton Asian Income GBP Inc||23.86||1.50||8.82||-8.74||29.46|
|FTSE AW Asia Pacific ex Japan||16.63||5.54||9.37||-7.59||31.68|
Past performance is not a guide to future returns.
Full year past performance data prior to the November 2012 is unavailable.
Source: Lipper IM, correct at 30/11/2016
The fund’s charges are taken from capital which can increase the yield, but reduces the potential for capital growth.