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Worldwide Healthcare Trust: August update 2021

Investment Analyst Josef Licsauer shares our analysis on the manager, process, culture, cost and performance of Worldwide Healthcare Trust.

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.

  • The trust is managed by a strong and experienced team
  • Generally, the healthcare sector has held up well during recent periods of volatility
  • The trust’s share price and NAV returned more than the benchmark over the period, but the dividend dropped from 25p per share to 22p

How it fits in a portfolio

Worldwide Healthcare Trust aims to grow your money over the long term by investing in companies in the global healthcare sector, including pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The trust could be an option to increase a broader investment portfolio’s exposure to healthcare. Investing in a single sector is a higher-risk approach than a more diversified one though, so it should only form a small part of a longer-term portfolio.

When investing in closed-ended funds you should be aware the trust can trade at a discount or premium to net asset value (NAV).

Manager

The Worldwide Healthcare Trust has been managed by OrbiMed, a healthcare investment company, since it launched in 1995. OrbiMed founder and managing partner Sven Borho and co-partner Trevor Polischuk are currently the trust’s lead managers and have over 60 years’ worth of combined experience in the industry.

Both managers have the support of OrbiMed’s investment team, which currently has over 100 investment professionals. They can draw on the broad resources of the investment team for challenge and research, with a focus on both new and established companies globally.

Process

With a wide universe of companies to choose from, the managers look for those they feel offer strong long-term growth potential. Typically, they’ll possess favourable traits like being financially strong, having underappreciated products in development or a high-quality management team. These can be found in both higher-risk early-stage companies and larger, more established firms worldwide.

The managers believe the healthcare industry is experiencing an era of innovation, ranging from new technologies to accelerated drug discovery and cures. They’ve found a number of these opportunities globally, but more so in the US, which makes up two thirds of the trust, and in certain higher-risk emerging markets which make up over 18%.

The biotechnology and pharmaceuticals sectors make up over half of the trust as the managers feel they are set to benefit from healthcare innovation and offer opportunity for long-term growth. Despite recent market disruption, each sector has held up relatively well. The rest of the trust is invested in other healthcare related companies like suppliers or medical technology manufacturers.

A small part of the trust is invested in unquoted companies - companies that are not currently listed on the stock market. These companies are higher risk as they tend to be more difficult to buy and sell than listed shares. The managers have seen growing opportunities in this area and took advantage of this over the course of 2020. Investments in healthcare services and emerging biotechnologies led the charge.

The trust has the flexibility to use gearing and derivatives which can magnify any gains or losses. Investors should be aware that each increases risk.

Culture

OrbiMed was founded in 1989 and has become one of the world's largest investment companies specialising in the healthcare sector. Their offices are spread across three continents, and given their focus on a single sector, they strive to become true experts in their field.

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors have become an increasingly prominent focus. Although it doesn’t form the basis of an investment decision, it does play a part in the trust’s investment process. The managers engage with companies and encourage them to adhere to positive governance practices, whilst avoiding companies that negatively impact public health or well-being.

Cost

The ongoing annual charge over the trust’s financial year to 31 March 2021 was 0.90%, which included the trust’s performance fee. Investors should refer to the latest annual report 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. Our platform charge doesn’t apply if held in a Fund and Share Account.

Performance

The trust’s performance has been strong over the long-term. Since it launched in 1995, returns have been impressive and apart from a few separate years, the trust has consistently outperformed the global healthcare index. Remember investments can go down as well as up in value so and you may get back less than you originally invest.

Chart showing Worldwide Health Trust 10 year performance

Past performance is not a guide to the future. Source: Lipper IM to 31/07/2021.

Despite the pandemic induced volatility, in the 12 months to 31 March 2021, the period covering the trust’s latest annual results, the share price rose by 27.4%, compared to the broader healthcare index’s increase of 16.0%. The net asset value (NAV) increased by 30% over the same period. Past performance is not a guide to future returns.

Some parts of the industry have seen minimal disruption to their supply chains or manufacturers, so demand remained healthy. This allowed the trust’s investments in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and some emerging markets technologies to flourish.

Natera, a diagnostics company that specialises in prenatal and genetic testing saw strong growth over this period. They’ve been granted permission to widen their prenatal screening to pregnant women of all ages and have also received positive news around a blood test which helps detect a resurgence in cancer post-surgery.

Chinese biotech firm, Burning Rock, has also helped drive performance over this period. Given strong demand outside of China, it managed to complete an initial public offering (IPO) in the US in June last year. It’s also benefitted from a faster recovery of its testing facility in China.

Not all companies fared well. Chinese based medical manufacturer, Shanghai Kindly Medical Instruments, was amongst the worst performing companies. Although it’s a leader in its field, the impact of COVID hit the businesses sales hard, as cancellations for outpatient visits and surgeries increased.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals, a large US biotech firm, also performed poorly. Some of their treatments fell short towards the final stages of product development. As a result, investors have grown concerned over their future growth potential and lack of late-stage development.

Annual percentage growth
July 16 -
July 17
July 17 -
July 18
July 18 -
July 19
July 19 -
July 20
July 20 -
July 21
Worldwide Healthcare Trust 20.9% 11.5% 3.4% 20.1% 10.8%
FTSE World Health Care 6.3% 13.7% 10.1% 12.1% 15.0%

Past performance is not a guide to the future Source: *Lipper IM to 31/07/2021.

Find out more about Worldwide healthcare trust, including charges

Worldwide Healthcare Trust Key Information Document

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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