InvestmentsNov 2 2015

Brittain backs ‘value players’ and property

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Brittain backs ‘value players’ and property

JPMorgan Mid Cap Investment Trust manager Georgina Brittain plans to keep hold of the “value players” in the market as she targets stocks aimed at discounted products.

In what she called the “Lidl and Aldi theme”, Ms Brittain said investing in these stocks was proving successful in her £216m trust that focuses on FTSE 250 index companies.

The vehicle – which has been ranked first within its sector for much of the past five years – had outperformed due to a strong conviction on UK consumer spending, the manager said.

“The consumer is getting into a better place day by day, and we think the whole mindset of focusing on value – and consumers focusing on value – has not changed.”

Ms Brittain, who manages the trust alongside Katen Patel, said holdings such as sports retailer JD Sports and greeting card seller Card Factory were shining stars, with the former “shooting the lights out”.

In support of the UK consumer view, the vehicle is also heavily underweight stocks focused around mining, commodities, oil and industrials.

Ms Brittain said these companies had too much ex-UK exposure. “Both of those plays have been very significant in our outperformance,” she said.

“There will be a time and a place when we need to move, but we don’t think it’s yet.”

The trust also targets the housing market and has more than 6 per cent in housebuilders Bellway and Berkeley Group and 2 per cent in online estate agency Rightmove.

Its biggest holding at 4.7 per cent is Howden Joinery, which sells kitchens to consumers and joinery parts to small builders. Ms Brittain said the stock “was not cheap but [fair] value”.

Meanwhile, the portfolio is investing in so-called challenger banks – newer financial institutions that focus on retail banking, particularly residential and buy-to-let mortgages.

The vehicle holds three challenger banks and just one traditional savings bank. However, the latter investment could become an area of contention when the Bank of England starts hiking its interest rate.

Ms Brittain said: “We’re thinking about UK interest rates, but it would be premature to do anything at the moment.

“When they do [rise] it is obvious it will be small incremental steps. This will not knock our story on real estate and housebuilders.”

The manager said she would have to look at the significant commodity underweight position in the future, but for now she believed the stocks “were all going backwards”.

The same applied for industrial engineering firms.

She said: “There are some world-class companies we do not own because they have a very difficult environment. That will change and we will need to buy into them.