Asian equities delivered a strong return in Q4, supported by easing geopolitical risk as the US and China reached a phase one trade deal, to be signed on 15 January. US dollar weakness also provided support to returns. China, South Korea and Taiwan all outperformed, led by gains in the technology sector. In Taiwan, strong performance from technology sector companies boosted returns, as earnings expectations were revised upwards amid optimism on 5G-related demand outlook. Korean technology companies was also driving market performance on the back of positive earnings upgrade buoyed by improved memory demands outlook.
Our strategy for Asian equities remains balanced as we move into 2020. Overall market valuations in Asia look reasonable against historical comparisons. However, this masks the fact that sectors such as banking, automotives and commodities drag down the headline valuations. The valuations of stocks we want to own are definitely not cheap, so we anticipate moderate returns from the region. However, we have a strong long-term conviction on where the best opportunities are in Asia. These include stocks in sectors such as Chinese consumption, insurance, technology, real estate in Singapore and Indian private-sector banks.
The fund posted solid gains in absolute terms but moderately lagged the regional benchmark over the quarter. Improved sentiment from expectations of a Phase 1 US-China trade deal and the monetary largesse from central banks around the world have set a euphoric mood in equity markets as the year came to a close. On the fund’s performance, the biggest contribution came from our consumer-related, industrial and ecommerce names in China. Technology leaders across Taiwan and Korea also drove significant gains over the period. Similar to previous upcycles, with markets rising rapidly this led to a small drag from the capital preservation strategies in the fund.
At the individual stock level, our core holdings in technology leaders TSMC and Samsung Electronics have contributed strongly to performance on the back of improved sentiment in the sector. Share price of TSMC traded higher on continued optimism on the semiconductor cycle into 2020 driven by the pick-up in 5G related demand. The accelerated roll-out of 5G devices and likely bottoming and imminent recovery of memory prices also supported share price gains of Samsung Electronics. China’s ecommerce giant Alibaba rallied on the back of strong quarterly results and new sales record achieved during the 11.11 global shopping festival. Outside the technology sector, innovative drug developer Hutchison China Meditech bounced back strongly from oversold levels as the market digested the earlier placement of the stock.
Meanwhile, some of our blue chip exposures struggled to keep up with strongly rising markets, such as Hong Kong landlords like Hongkong Land and Sun Hung Kai Properties. Australia stocks such as Medibank Private and Tabcorp lagged the market rally as worries over economic impact from the widespread bushfires led to a downturn in domestic sentiment. In India, IT services company Infosys saw share price stumble, owing to the ongoing fallout from a whistle-blower’s revelations, which highlighted possible financial irregularities and management issues. However, share price of the company has subsequently pared some of the losses as investigations found little evidence to substantiate most of the allegations.
|Q1/2015 - Q4/2015||Q1/2016 - Q4/2016||Q1/2017 - Q4/2017||Q1/2018 - Q4/2018||Q1/2019 - Q4/2019|
|Net Asset Value||3.0||28.5||34.8||-8.1||15.7|
Past performance is not a guide to future performance and may not be repeated. The value of investments and the income from them may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount originally invested.
Investors in the emerging markets and Asia should be aware that this involves a high degree of risk and should be seen as long term in nature.Less developed markets are generally less well regulated than the UK, they may be less liquid and may have less reliable arrangements for trading and settlement of the underlying holdings.
The Company holds investments denominated in currencies other than sterling, investors should note that exchange rates may cause the value of these investments, and the income from them, to rise or fall.
The Company invests in smaller companies that may be less liquid than in larger companies and price swings may therefore be greater than investment companies that invest in larger companies.
The Company may borrow money to invest in further investments, this is known as gearing. Gearing will increase returns if the value of the investments purchased increase in value by more than the cost of borrowing, or reduce returns if they fail to do so.
Investments such as warrants, participation certificates, guaranteed bonds, etc. will expose the fund to the risk of the issuer of these instruments defaulting on paying the capital back to the Company
The fund can use derivatives to protect the capital value of the portfolio and reduce volatility, or for efficient portfolio management.