Worldwide Healthcare Trust (LSE: WWH)

Last close As at 12/07/2024

GBP3.67

4.50 (1.24%)

Market capitalisation

GBP1,941m

Worldwide Healthcare Trust is a specialist investment trust that invests in the global healthcare sector, with the objective of achieving a high level of capital growth. Gearing and derivative transactions are used to enhance capital returns and mitigate risk. Performance is measured against the MSCI World Health Care Index (sterling adjusted).

Equity Proposition

1) The trust’s managers can draw on the extensive resources at healthcare specialist OrbiMed

2) The managers select stocks on a bottom-up basis

3) Worldwide Health Trust’s portfolio is biased towards growth stocks

4) The healthcare sector has historically provided relatively robust annual total returns

1) The trust’s managers can draw on the extensive resources at healthcare specialist OrbiMed 

OrbiMed is a leading global healthcare investment company with a proven track record across public and private equity and debt markets. It has around $17bn of assets under management and 12 offices across the world including in New York, Shanghai and London. The company’s team of 140 professionals, which includes 36 people with advanced medical degrees and 16 company CEOs or founders, invests in every subsector of the healthcare sector, across all geographies and at all stages of a company’s lifecycle. 

2) The managers select stocks on a bottom-up basis 

OrbiMed has employed a public equity portfolio review process since 2009, whereby Borho and Polischuk meet regularly to discuss WWH’s portfolio structure and individual holdings. Topics include clinical and regulatory events, and new drug launches. Stocks are selected from a universe of around 1,000 companies, and the portfolio is diversified by geography, subsector and market cap. The managers seek companies with underappreciated product pipelines and strong management teams, which are trading on reasonable valuations. They also have good access to unquoted companies given OrbiMed’s large private equity team. There is a disciplined portfolio construction approach and a rigorous risk-management process. 

3) Worldwide Health Trust’s portfolio is biased towards growth stocks 

Although the trust experienced a difficult period of performance in recent years as growth stocks struggled in a rising interest rate environment, WWH has a long-term record of significant outperformance versus its benchmark. 

The main features of the trust’s portfolio are its longstanding overweight exposure to biotech and an underweight allocation to pharma stocks. Within biotech, the managers favour emerging (smaller-cap) rather than larger businesses, as although these companies are inherently riskier, their risk/reward profiles are deemed to be superior. Over the long term, this strategy has been significantly beneficial for the trust’s performance. 

Innovation within the biopharma industry is very strong, which is driven by novel technologies including gene editing/therapies. Two-thirds of the industry pipeline and more than 50% of new product approvals in the last decade have been sourced from biotech companies. Also, the regulatory environment remains supportive with a record number of novel drug approvals in 2023. 

WWH has benefited from robust healthcare M&A activity as several portfolio companies have been acquired at meaningful premiums, both direct holdings and those in a proprietary M&A basket. Activity should continue as pharma companies need to bolster their pipelines ahead of a major upcoming patent cliff. 

4) The healthcare sector has historically provided relatively robust annual total returns 

There is a wealth of opportunities in the global healthcare sector across a range of subsectors: pharmaceuticals (including speciality and generic businesses), biotechnology, medtech/devices, healthcare services and life science tools. The US is the most developed healthcare market and makes up more than 70% of the MSCI Health Care Index. US healthcare stocks delivered an uncharacteristically poor relative performance in 2023 in a narrow market dominated by large-cap technology stocks, which may offer an interesting entry point to the sector. 

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Worldwide Healthcare Trust in 60 seconds

Equity Analyst

Melanie Jenner

Mel Jenner

Director, Investment Trusts

Key Management

  • David Harris

    Chairman

  • Martin Smith

    Chairman

  • Sven H Borho

    Fund manager

Share Price Performance

Price Performance
% 1M 3M 12M
Actual 2.4 9.9 19.7
Relative 0.9 5.3 5.5
52 week high/low 367.0p/288.0p

Overview

Worldwide Healthcare Trust’s (WWH’s) co-managers, Sven Borho and Trevor Polischuk, at global healthcare specialist OrbiMed, are bullish on the outlook for the healthcare industry. They believe that high levels of innovation will be the most important driver of the sector’s performance, although continued robust levels of product approvals and an acceleration in M&A activity are also important considerations. The managers’ successful long-term strategy of favouring emerging (smaller-cap) biotech companies over large-cap pharma companies provided an earnings headwind between early 2021 and mid-2022 as growth stocks were under pressure in a rising interest rate environment. However, performance appears to have turned a corner in recent months and it should be remembered that WWH has significantly outperformed its benchmark since launch in April 1995.

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