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Bankers Investment Trust: February 2022 update

In this investment trust update, Investment Analyst Henry Ince shares our analysis on the manager, process, culture, cost and performance of Bankers Investment Trust plc.

Important notes

This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

  • Alex Crooke is an experienced investor supported by a highly resourced team
  • The trust’s dividend increased for the 55th successive year
  • Long-term returns have been attractive though the trust hasn’t performed as well as the benchmark more recently

How it fits in a portfolio

Bankers Investment Trust aims to grow income and capital over the longer term by investing in companies from around the globe. The trust’s focus on cash generation means it typically invests in more established companies from developed regions like the US, Europe and Japan. It also has some exposure to emerging markets, as well as smaller companies, both of which are higher risk.

The trust is invested quite differently from the benchmark, so performance can also be different, while it could offer diversification against other globally focused investments. Blending both value and growth companies, the trust could work alongside other investments which have a more distinct style, or simply provide global diversification to a broader investment portfolio.

Manager

Alex Crooke has managed the trust since July 2003. A graduate of Manchester University, Crooke started his career in 1990 as a US equities analyst for Equitable Life Assurance Society. He joined Henderson (now Janus Henderson) in 1994 and is currently Co-head of equities - EMEA and Asia Pacific.

He has plenty of resource at his disposal and delegates the stock picking to six individual managers at Janus Henderson. Each has a different area of expertise which Crooke carefully blends to create a diversified portfolio.

The Board of Directors also play an important role in monitoring the trust’s operational performance. It was recently announced that Sue Inglis, the trust’s Chair and Director, will retire following the annual general meeting (AGM) in 2022. Her successor, Simon Miller, joined the board in January 2022 and brings with him a wealth of experience from previous positions including as Chairman of Brewin Dolphin and several other investment trusts.

Process

The trust is split into six regional sleeves: UK, Europe (excluding UK), North America, Japan, Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) and China. Each sleeve has its own dedicated manager who is given autonomy to invest where they see fit. While each manager implements their own investment style, what unites them is a focus on companies with strong cash flows.

Crooke is responsible for selecting the underlying managers and choosing how much to invest with each one. He does this based on his view of the economic situation in each area, and which regions he believes can provide sustainable dividend growth. He tends to look at the world with a three to five-year view, so the investments don’t change too often. He’s flexible though and will react quickly in response to major economic events such as Brexit or Covid-19.

Asset allocation has changed dramatically since Crooke took charge in 2003. Back then over 50% of the trust’s assets were allocated to the UK. That figure is now closer to 19%. The trust’s benchmark changed in 2017 from the FTSE All Share to the FTSE World to reflect the change in geographical diversification, although the investment philosophy and process didn’t change.

North America is the largest sleeve with around 35% invested here, though this is less than the benchmark and it only accounts for around 13.5% of the income generated. The aim is that it also contributes to growth though. In contrast, companies from Europe and the UK generate over half of the income, whilst only making up around 37% of the trust.

Financials, consumer discretionary and industrials are the largest sectors in the trust. Exposure to technology has recently reduced to around 16% of the trust compared with 20% in 2020.

Each of the underlying managers have been active over the past year. In the US, elevator manufacturer OTIS Worldwide was added due to its quality and leading market position, while the management team is expected to improve the company further. Australia’s OZ Minerals and the UK’s Anglo American were also added to the trust. As copper miners, the fund managers believe they could benefit from increased demand to support the world’s energy transition.

Meta (previously Facebook) was sold following concerns surrounding the platform’s lack of control to prevent negative outcomes for society. Pinterest was also sold as the managers believe the social media service may not be able to cash in on their product as much as initially forecast. Elsewhere, Thai Beverage was sold as sales continue to come under pressure from travel restrictions, and Shanghai International Airport suffered a similar fate.

The manager has flexibility to use derivatives and gearing (borrowing to invest) which, if used, adds risk.

Culture

Bankers Investment Trust was established in 1888 and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. It’s managed by Janus Henderson Investors, a large investment firm with offices all over the world. The firm was formed in 2017 from the merger of two long-established groups – US-based Janus Capital Group and Henderson Global Investors.

They value experience, and so fund managers at the group have on average over two decades of investment experience. Sharing knowledge and ideas between investment teams is an important part of the culture. Managers have the flexibility to tap into the wider group’s resources for ideas and insights, but also have the freedom to do their own research and form their own views without having a ‘house view’ placed on them.

Cost

The ongoing annual charge over the trust’s financial year to 31 October 2021 was 0.48% compared with 0.50% for the previous financial year. Investors should refer to the latest annual reports and accounts, and Key Information Document for details of the risks and charging structure.

If held in a SIPP or ISA the HL platform charge of 0.45% (capped at £200 for a SIPP and £45 for an ISA) per annum also applies. The platform charge doesn’t apply if the trust is held in a Fund and Share Account.

Performance

Alex Crooke has delivered strong returns since becoming the trust’s manager in 2003. Over the past ten years, the trust’s net asset value (NAV) has grown by 260.6% vs 196.3%* for their benchmark. Its share price has also grown by 307.3%, whilst the AIC Global peer group average returned 245.4%. Remember all investments will rise and fall in value, so you could get back less than you invest. Past performance isn’t a guide to the future.

Over the trust’s last financial year to the end of October 2021, its NAV rose 26.5% versus 32.3% for the benchmark. The share price rose 18.6% over the same period which was held back by a widening discount.

*Source: Lipper IM to 31/12/2021.

Country allocation also detracted. Of the six sleeves, only two outperformed their regional benchmarks. The North American portion was boosted by the trust’s largest single investment, Microsoft, which has continued to outperform market expectations. In the Pacific (excluding Japan and China) region, Australian financial services company Macquarie Group and two Chinese businesses, Chinasoft and ANTA Sports, experienced strong growth.

China was the only sleeve to lose money over the same period with regulatory crackdowns and concerns surrounding the real estate sector casting doubts over the region. Closer to home, the UK sleeve made money but didn’t quite keep up with the benchmark. The London Stock Exchange was one of main laggards with its recent acquisition of Refinitiv failing to charm investors.

Dividends globally have been bouncing back, especially within Europe following the dramatic contraction caused by Covid-19. The trust’s dividend per share for 2021 (to the end of October) was 2.176p, 1% higher than the previous year. The trust currently yields 1.76%. Please note income is variable and not a guide to the income you’ll receive in future.

Annual percentage growth

Jan 17 - Jan 18 Jan 18 - Jan 19 Jan 19 - Jan 20 Jan 20 - Jan 21 Jan 21 - Jan 22
Bankers Investment Trust 29.42 -5.38 21.92 12.40 8.53
FTSE All-Share 11.28 -3.83 10.67 -7.55 18.90
FTSE World 12.72 0.88 17.14 11.78 18.56
AIC Global 22.40 -0.04 12.87 11.33 6.38

Past performance isn't a guide to the future. Source: Lipper IM to 31/01/2022.

Find out more about more about Bankers Investment Trust including charges

Bankers Investment Trust Key Investor Information

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Important notes

This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

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