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Global Small Companies Fund

Specialists in a vast and growing investable universe

January 2024 - Monthly REPORT

Global equity markets made further gains

SUMMARY

  • Global equity markets made further gains in January upon positive corporate earnings reports and rising hopes of an economic soft landing, despite stronger economic data pushing back expectations of interest rate cuts.
  • Smaller companies were slightly weaker in local currency terms in January, but a stronger US dollar helped deliver a positive return when expressed in Australian dollar terms.
  • The Fund returned 2.3% in January, while the benchmark returned 1.1%.

PORTFOLIO

Top Holdings (alphabetically)

Computacenter PLC
United Kingdom
Information Technology
Computacenter Plc provides information technology infrastructure services. It delivers on-site services and supplies information technology hardware and software to customers. It operates through the following geographical segments: United Kingdom, Germany, France, North America, and International. The company was founded by Philip William Hulme and Peter James Ogden in 1981 and is headquartered in Hatfield, the United Kingdom.
ePlus Inc
United States
Information Technology
ePlus, Inc. engages in the provision of information technology (IT) solutions that enable organizations to optimize their IT environment and supply chain processes in the United States. It operates through the Technology and Financing segments. The Technology segment offers hardware, perpetual and subscription software, maintenance, software assurance, and internally provided and outsourced services, and advanced professional and managed services, including ePlus managed, professional, security, staff augmentation, server and desktop support, and project management services. The Financing segment specializes in arrangements, such as direct financing, sales-type, and operating leases, loans and consumption-based financing arrangements, and underwriting and management of IT equipment and assets. Its financing operations consist of sales, pricing, credit, contracts, accounting, risk management, and asset management. This segment primarily finances IT equipment, communication-related equipment, and medical equipment, and industrial machinery and equipment, office furniture and general office equipment, transportation equipment, and other general business equipment directly, as well as through vendors. The company was founded by Bruce M. Bowen in 1990 and is headquartered in Herndon, VA.
IONOS Group SE
Germany
Information Technology
IONOS Group SE offers web hosting and cloud solutions. It is an international digitization partner and sees itself as a trusted cloud enabler serving the needs of SMBs and freelance professionals, as well as larger enterprise customers and private users. IT also offer a broad portfolio of products and services including web presence & productivity as well as cloud solutions. The company was founded on November 8, 2016 and is headquartered in Montabaur, Germany.
Next 15 Group PLC
United Kingdom
Communication Services
Next 15 Group Plc engages in providing communications services. It operates through the following segments: Customer Insight, Customer Engagement, Customer Delivery, and Business Transformations. It includes agencies, spanning digital content, marketing, PR, consumer, technology, marketing software, market research, public affairs and policy communications. The company was founded by Thomas W. Lewis and Mark Adams on August 12, 1981 and is headquartered in London, the United Kingdom.
Sendas Distribuidora S/A
Brazil
Consumer Staples
Sendas Distribuidora S/A distributes consumer goods. The Company provides a wide variety of foods, household products, clothes, and toiletries. Sendas Distribuidora serves customers in Brazil.

Capitalisation Breakdown

Region Breakdown

PERFORMANCE

Performance Table

NET PERFORMANCE FOR PERIODS ENDING 31 Jan 20241
1 MTH 1 YEAR 2 YEARS P.A. 3 YEARS P.A. 5 YEARS P.A. SINCE INCEPTION P.A.
Global Small Companies Fund 2.3% 5.5% -1.1% 1.4% 6.4% 6.4%
MSCI All Country World SMID Cap Index unhedged in AUD 1.1% 11.7% 2.9% 7.4% 9.4% 8.1%

Swipe horizontally to see all columns

Performance Chart

NET PERFORMANCE SINCE INCEPTION2

COMMENTARY

Market Commentary

Stronger-than-expected US economic data pushed back market expectations for the timing of the Federal Reserve’s first interest rate cut. The US labour market remained strong, creating 216,000 new jobs in December, which helped keep the unemployment rate at just 3.7%. The US economy expanded 3.3% annualised in the December quarter, driven by continued strong consumer spending. Strong levels of economic activity helped push inflation back up slightly to 3.4% in December, reversing the downward trend seen throughout most of 2023.

This helped drive US equity markets higher, the S&P 500 rising 5.3% to reach an all-time high in January. However, concerns that interest rates would remain ‘higher for longer’ reduced investor appetite for smaller companies, the small-cap Russell 2000 index falling 0.4%. However, a stronger US dollar pushed up investor returns in Australian dollar terms.

The size of the European economy remained unchanged during the December quarter of 2023, having contracted during the previous period. The stagnation has been driven by higher energy costs and Germany’s sharp fourth quarter slowdown. The war in the Middle East has begun to disrupt shipping in the Red Sea, a critical trade route between Asia and Europe. This threatens to apply upward pressure on consumer prices in Europe over time if it impacts supply chains.

Meanwhile Japan’s Nikkei 225 share market index ended January at a 34-year record high. Investors seem to be rewarding Japanese companies’ efforts to improve corporate governance and to allocate capital more effectively. Furthermore, mild but positive inflation has encouraged consumer spending and driven wage growth higher, after Japan has been trapped in a deflationary spiral for decades. The service industry expanded sharply in January, which offset the slight fall in manufacturing as sentiment continues to improve in the land of the rising sun.

Portfolio Highlights

The Fund outperformed its benchmark during January. It benefitted from strong stock performance in information technology and consumer staples and its zero weighting to the underperforming real estate and materials sectors. This was somewhat offset by weaker stock performance in the Fund’s industrial and consumer discretionary holdings.

The Fund’s two strongest contributors to relative returns were recent additions to the portfolio. The position in IONOS Group, the German-based internet business which delivers web hosting, domain and cloud computing services was established in November. It continued to outperform in January after announcing faster than expected margin improvement.

Meanwhile, the Fund’s holding in Korea’s market leading gaming and video streaming service AfreecaTV, which was only established in December, also outperformed strongly. Investors continued to anticipate strong revenue growth following the exit of key competitor Twitch from the South Korean streaming market.

Next 15, a UK-based, technology-focused public relations and consulting business performed strongly, in line with a rebound in broader sentiment towards the UK technology sector. The stock had underperformed in 2023 despite solid business fundamentals.

The Fund’s largest detractor from relative returns in January was UK-based travel agent On the Beach, which focusses on short and medium haul flight and hotel package holidays to Continental Europe. It underperformed after delivering significant December gains. The company is currently valued at an attractive multiple of earnings and it is expected to deliver strong earnings growth over the coming quarters.

The Fund established a new position in US-based online dating business Match Group, which provides multiple dating websites worldwide. It is the undisputed leader in its niche market and is well positioned to continue to benefit from the secular growth trend of online dating. The company owns a range of leading global brands including Match.com, Hinge, Tinder and Bumble. The company delivers high levels of recurring revenue and excellent positive free cash flow.

The Portfolio is currently valued at an aggregate multiple of 14.1 times its forecast 2024 earnings, which are expected to grow at over 15% per year and to deliver a return on equity above 25%.

PROFILE

  • AMP North
  • Asgard eWrap
  • AET Wholesale Access Fund
  • BT Panorama
  • BT Wrap
  • Colonial First Wrap
  • Centric IDPS
  • Centric Super
  • Hub24
  • IOOF Pursuit
  • IOOF Portfolio Service
  • IOOF Core
  • Macquarie Wrap
  • Mason Stevens
  • MLC Navigator
  • MLC Wrap
  • Netwealth
  • Omniport(lifespan)
  • Powerwrap
  • Praemium
  • uXchange

STATISTICAL DATA

PORTFOLIO SUMMARY
VOLATILITY3
12.9%
NUMBER OF STOCKS
39
BETA4
0.73
MAXIMUM DRAW DOWN
-29.1%

FEATURES

  • APIR CODE PCL0022AU
  • REDEMPTION PRICEA$ 1.4811
  • FEES * Management Fee: 1.1%
    Performance Fee: 20.5%
  • Minimum initial investment A$10,000
  • FUM AT MONTH END A$ 131.36m
  • STRATEGY INCEPTION DATE 1 April 2015
  • BenchmarkMSCI All Country World SMID Cap Index unhedged in AUD

Fund Managers

Jon Moog

CIO and Portfolio Manager

Description

The Fund invests principally in small and midcap listed (or soon to be listed) global equities. Its investment objective is to obtain returns greater than the MSCI All Country World Index SMID Cap unhedged in Australian dollars (‘Index’) over rolling 3 year periods after fees. The Fund’s investment manager, Lizard Investors LLC, uses a value oriented investment approach that seeks to identify and invest in quality businesses that create significant value but are mispriced, overlooked, or out-of-favour. The investment manager believes that unique opportunities exist due to limited available research, corporate actions, or unfavourable investor perception.

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1. Net performance figures are shown after all fees and expenses, and assume reinvestment of distributions. No allowance has been made for buy/sell spreads. Please refer to the PDS for information regarding risks. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance, the value of investments can go up and down.
2. Inception 1st April 2015.
3. Annualised standard deviation since inception.
4. Relative to MSCI All Country World SMID Cap index unhedged in AUD.
* For further information regarding fees please see the PDS available on our website.