Driven by the impact of macro-economic factors in the wake of US/Chinese trade wars and uncertainty surrounding Brexit, NAV total return decreased 19.5% for the six months ended 31 December 2018, compared with -15.5% for the benchmark index. However, the performance has improved so far in 2019 with a 7.4% increase in NAV per share, as of 22 February 2019.
The poor performance was led by highly-rated technology stocks, including software and semiconductor-related electronics stocks, such as XP Power and First Derivatives. The company’s holdings in the retail sector, like JD Sports and the Joules Group, were pulled down by extreme negativity towards the sector. The biggest sector positives were the lack of exposure to oil & gas, mining and construction companies.
The Board is declaring an interim dividend of 1.60p per share, reflecting a 6.7% year-on-year increase. The company believes that its process of investing in companies with adaptable products and services will aid with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. The board remains confident of delivering continued returns to stockholders in the long term.