The portfolio rebounded strongly in March, gaining 4.9% (net of an accrued performance fee of 20% based on a 6% annual targeted return), bringing NAV to $1.023, up 2.3% YTD. In comparison, the STI on a total return basis gained 5.2% in March, and is essentially flat YTD.
On a percentage basis, Best World was the strongest performer, with a 36.2% monthly return. The announcement of expansionary plans in the Phillipines was enough to incite trading in the stock. Renewed investor interest in Jardine Strategic Holdings sent the stock rising 21% for the month, a huge boost to the overall portfolio (JSH is our largest single position in the portfolio). As previously mentioned, we view the underlying businesses as highly attractive in their own right, and the parent holding company simply offers the opportunity to purchase the whole basket at a substantial discount to market value. Another notable performer was Wells Fargo, which gained 14% for the month (also a substantial holding for us). Worries over financial reform in the US appear to have subsided for the moment, and investors are beginning to focus on P/E multiples for bank valuations, instead of book value. Wells Fargo currently trades at a forward PE of 11.3X, which leaves much upside potential based on a PE multiple re-rating alone.
Noble was the chief laggard in the portfolio, as concerns over a director's share sale and uncertainty over the merger of subsidiary Gloucester Coal and Macarthur Coal weighed on stock performance. US coal giant Peabody recently made a takeover offer for Macarthur Coal on the condition that its proposed merger with Gloucester Coal does not go through. At stake for Noble is a near 25% stake in the consolidated Macarthur, which is poised to benefit from steel production in China. While uncertainty still lingers, a second refuted bid by Peabody suggests that Noble has the upper hand, but we will be watching developments closely over the next week or so (Macarthur shareholders vote for the Gloucester-Macarthur merger on 12 April).
BEST WORLD 36.2%
JARDINE STRATEGIC 21.0%
Hotung Investment Holdings 18.3%
FRASER AND NEAVE 16.9%
WELLS FARGO 14.0%
STI ETF 6.1%
BERKSHIRE HATH-B 1.3%
ASCENDAS I-TRUST 1.0%
WBL Corp -2.8%
TAT HONG -3.3%
NOBLE GRP -3.5%
$6,000 of new money was added into the portfolio, resulting in the creation of 5865.10 new units on 31 March 2010.