Baillie Gifford 

Baillie Gifford ignores market wobbles and government action

Baillie Gifford ignores market wobbles and government action

Asset manager Baillie Gifford has said it will continue to focus on the fundamentals of the companies it invests despite market volatility and government action.

Iain McCombie, co-manager of the £3.4bn Baillie Gifford Managed Fund, said that despite the recent downturn in equity markets, he didn’t take any action.

He said: "We are bottom up stock pickers, we are trying to vest and keep businesses for the long term.

"If the market has a wobble, what we will try to understand is if the long-term prospects of the businesses have changed in any way, and if we don't think it has, why would we want to sell it?

"For us, the real risk isn't short time variance against the market, it's the permanent loss of capital."

Mr McCombie argued that he and his team believe that in the long run, share prices will follow fundamentals.

"So, if you spend all your time to find good companies with good fundamentals, and try to hold them as long as you can, in the long run you are rewarded for that."

Mr McCombie added that he still considered Amazon a good bet despite the news the company will have to pay a new digital services tax in the UK.

In his Budget speech last week, Chancellor Philip Hammond said the government would introduce a digital services tax from April 2020 which will be paid by digital services companies that are profitable and generate "at least £500m a year in global revenue".

Mr McCombie argued this new tax wouldn't make "a material difference" for Amazon.

He said: "I don't think it's a big deal for Amazon overall, they had a similar issue in the US a few years ago - they didn't have sale tax and they had to introduce it, and it had no impact on the business."

In a bid to offer faster and faster deliveries, the retail giant expanded its network of distribution centres in the US, and started collecting sales taxes in more states as a result.

Some 2.6 per cent of the Baillie Gifford Managed Fund is invested in Amazon, which makes it the fund's biggest holding followed by American online food ordering company Grubhub and streaming media service Netflix.

Mr McCombie said the online retail giant was a great example of a company reinvesting in their business and taking a long-term view.

He said: "So many people for so long have written it [Amazon] off, because it's too expensive, it doesn't make any money, but I think that what they have missed is the fact that Jeff Bezos is a true revolutionary.

"He has taken that true long-term view, he is trying to build a business where the customers remain very loyal and plays the long game. But they also miss the fact that Amazon are looking for new markets all the time."

Mr McCombie explained the goal of the Managed Fund – which is 75 per cent invested in equities, with the remaining allocated to bonds and cash – is to find companies around the world with good fundamentals, such as Amazon.

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