Investments  

Scottish Mortgage chairman warns on volatility

Scottish Mortgage chairman warns on volatility

The chairman of the largest investment trust on the London Stock Exchange has warned of volatility hitting its portfolio.

But Fiona McBain, who chairs the £7.3bn Scottish Mortgage investment trust, said she would remain steadfastly behind its management team.

She said the level of political uncertainty in the world remained high but investors should focus on the long-term trends of technological disruption, the growing importance of China in the global economy and advances in healthcare.

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Ms McBain said: "The approach of the managers, focused on the long term fundamental characteristics of businesses, favours the selection of companies which are adopting the advances in technology to enable them to provide what their customers want or need. This should offer the potential for durable growth in the long run.

"However, the above should not be taken to suggest that the path to any success will be smooth. Progress is almost always bumpy and stock markets tend to exacerbate these swings.

"There will be times when share prices diverge from company fundamentals and during such periods the companies in Scottish Mortgage’s portfolio may fall out of favour. No attempt will be made to mitigate short-term volatility and the board will continue to stand resolutely behind the managers during such times."

The Scottish Mortgage trust returned 21 per cent in the year to 31 March 2018, compared with 13 per cent for the average trust in the AIC Global sector in the same time period.

The board announced the dividend would increase by just over 2 per cent to £3.07 a share and will be paid from capital gains and the reserves the trust has accumulated in recent years.

Tom Slater, who jointly runs the trust, said the investments are not made on the basis that they will pay an income.

One of the more controversial investments in the trust is Tesla, which Mr Slater said he is happy to own due to the size of the opportunity in the electric car market and the vision of chief executive Elon Musk, despite the company missing production targets.

Tesla is the fifth largest of the trust's holdings, making up 4.9 per cent of the trust but it contributed a 0.5 per cent loss to the overall performance.

Tom Moore, who runs the £1.25bn Standard Life UK Equity Income Unconstrained fund, is less keen on the investment case for Tesla shares.

He said a problem with the investment case for Tesla shares is that technology developed by one car company tends to be quickly adopted by rivals, reducing the advantage to companies who innovate.      

david.thorpe@ft.com