Loads of articles have looked at the best performing shares and funds over the 2010s. I thought I’d add a little twist, looking at the trusts that doubled in the first half of the decade and then repeated the trick in the second.
Using my boundless imaginative powers, I’ve christened these “double doublers”. A second career in Hollywood scriptwriting surely can’t be far away.
As always, it’s important to stress that “past performance is no guarantee of future results” however interesting it may be to look at.
The magic double
Why choose doubling for this exercise?
Well, admittedly it is mostly because a 100% gain is a nice, round number.
Over five years, it represents compound annual growth of about 15%.
Long-term equity returns are reckoned to be 5-6% a year plus inflation.
With inflation at 2% or thereabouts, 15% a year, therefore, represents roughly double the long-term returns we have seen from the stock market.
That’s a high hurdle to jump consistently.
The 20 double doublers
Here is the list, organised by sector, based on share price total returns:
|Company name||Sector||% return|
|Baillie Gifford Japan||Japan||150||119||446|
|Baillie Gifford Shin Nippon||Japanese Smaller Companies||168||190||678|
|JPMorgan US Smaller Companies||North American Smaller Companies||145||108||410|
|BMO Private Equity||Private Equity||135||114||403|
|NB Private Equity Partners||Private Equity||144||105||400|
|Pantheon International||Private Equity||198||103||506|
|Princess Private Equity Holding||Private Equity||185||112||503|
|Aberdeen Smaller Companies Income||UK Smaller Companies||142||117||425|
|BlackRock Smaller Companies||UK Smaller Companies||194||146||623|
|BlackRock Throgmorton Trust||UK Smaller Companies||156||174||601|
|Henderson Smaller Companies||UK Smaller Companies||225||122||621|
|Invesco Perpetual UK Smaller Companies||UK Smaller Companies||136||142||472|
|JPMorgan Smaller Companies||UK Smaller Companies||125||144||451|
|Oryx International Growth||UK Smaller Companies||146||108||411|
|Rights & Issues||UK Smaller Companies||198||137||607|
|Standard Life UK Smaller Companies||UK Smaller Companies||138||149||492|
|Allianz Technology||Technology & Media||109||194||512|
|Polar Capital Technology||Technology & Media||128||172||520|
Followers of investment trusts won’t be surprised by many of these names.
Lindsell Train, Scottish Mortgage, and the Polar Capital & Allianz tech trusts have been at the top of the performance tables for some time now.
Although there are around 400 investment trusts in total, only 250 or so have a ten-year record. Therefore, only about 1 in 12 twelve of all (surviving) trusts are double doublers.
Small is powerful
I suspected smaller companies would be a big theme before I mashed this data together, but I was surprised to see them account for 11 of the 20 spots.
And it reinforces my view that UK smaller companies are one of the areas where investment trusts can add real value.
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There are 18 UK smaller company trusts with a 10-year track record and half of them make this list. That’s quite astounding — even when you take the fact there is some survivorship bias at play.
However, it’s worth remembering that the last decade has been a good one for UK smaller companies in general, despite the fact the wider UK market has struggled.
The FTSE 100 may have only returned 104% over the 2010s but the FTSE 250 and FTSE SmallCap have produced 210% and 184% respectively. The nine UK trusts on this list, though, all returned more than 400%.
An even tougher test
If we make the hurdle a little higher — net asset value doubling in both five-year periods, rather than share price — then 7 of the 20 drop out.
All of the private equity funds fail to make the grade. In fact, none of them managed to double their net asset value in either of the five-year periods. As I’ve often remarked, narrowing discounts over the last decade have had a massive impact on share price returns.
Indeed, many private equity trusts sat on discounts of 40%+ at the end of the global financial crisis, due to concerns that their underlying investments might be carrying too much debt to survive.
The JPMorgan US Smaller Companies trust and the Aberdeen and Henderson Smaller trusts also drop out, although the JPMorgan one only misses by a whisker.
What’s missing from lists like these can also be revealing.
For the most part, country/regional specialists aren’t included. I think there are 50 such trusts with a 10-year record, but only 3 make the list.
It’s interesting that 2 of those are Japanese funds. Japan’s market (as measured by the Nikkei 225) is famously still below the peak it hit way back in 1989 although it has returned about 150% over the last decade in sterling terms.
I thought some more North American trusts might feature, but there are only 6 that have a 10-year track record. The investment trust sector prefers to fish in more exotic markets, with those wanting US exposure often plumping for trusts with a global mandate.
Sectors need a little timing
Sector funds are also largely absent, although there are fewer of them that have been around for a decade.
Technology is there but biotechnology/healthcare misses out, despite the fact it has a similar performance record over the whole decade and one more trust with a decade-long history.
To me, this speaks to the difficulty of making investments in specific areas confined by sector or region. Performance can wax and wane and I don’t think I have any great insight in picking the very best times to invest.
That’s why I tend to stick to global trusts and very broad themes like smaller companies, private equity and infrastructure.
Having said that, I’m still tempted to spice up my portfolio a little with some biotech exposure as it seems overdue a decent run.
Other notable absentees from the double doublers are the entire alternative asset and VCT sectors.
Most alternative asset funds are geared towards income, so it’s not surprising they don’t feature. They might make 15% a year every now and again, particularly if their premiums widen significantly, but doing so over a 5-year period is much more of a stretch.
Many of them set out to make perhaps 7-8% a year. And of course, the vast majority of them didn’t exist ten years ago.
Venture capital trusts miss out and, in fact, few of the 46 with a 10-year record even come close. Artemis VCT is perhaps the nearest.
Their high costs make it harder for them to compete when you don’t consider their upfront and ongoing tax benefits. And with more restrictive conditions on what they can invest in, I wouldn’t count on their overall performance improving over the next decade.
Let’s look at some trusts that very nearly made the list, with one double and one gain in excess of 80%.
Mid Wynd International from the Global sector, which I looked at last week, is one of these.
A few more smaller company funds — Herald, North Atlantic Smaller Companies, and Montanaro — fall into this camp.
Alexander Darwell’s European Opportunities, which I must get round to looking at soon, is another.
Both 3i Group and 3i Infrastructure come achingly close, as does TR Property.
From UK general trusts, Independent Investment Trust, Nick Train’s Finsbury Income & Growth, JPMorgan MidCap, and Mercantile are all worthy of a mention.
With the exception of Train’s fund, these all specialise in small/mid caps, again adding to my
confirmation bias feeling that this is a sector worth following.
Having created this data set, I feel duty-bound to torture it a little bit more.
So let’s look at a few trusts that started the decade with a poor run of form but finished in spectacular style.
Baring Emerging Europe and JPMorgan Russian delivered a decline of 30/40% in the first five years but then doubled and trebled respectively.
Manchester & London also turned a small loss into a near treble. Monks, also from the Global sector, was much improved in the second half of the decade.
Must try harder
To finish, a few selected from those that sprinted off the line and then pulled up.
Edinburgh Investment Trust and Perpetual Income & Growth, managed for most of the decade by Mark Barnett, are standouts. It’s easy to forget that these funds more than doubled your money from 2010 to 2014, but have done little better than a savings account since then.
The UK Equity Income sector features strongly, with the likes of Lowland and Law Debenture, plus a few other smaller funds, struggling these past few years.
Scottish Oriental Smaller Companies, Biotech Growth, and Strategic Equity Capital are other former high flyers that have had a pedestrian semi-decade.
If possible, I’ll try to revisit this list in five years from now, to see if any of the 20 can do the treble.
Much will depend on how the wider market does but I’ll make a wild guess that somewhere between 8 and 12 might make it.
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