Baillie GiffordJun 8 2020

How a Baillie Gifford trust returned 22% as markets fell

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How a Baillie Gifford trust returned 22% as markets fell

The coronavirus crisis plunging the world into “fast-forward mode” has helped the £813m Edinburgh Worldwide Investment Trust’s share price jump nearly 22 per cent while its benchmark tumbled, according to the trust’s manager.

Its results for the six months to April 30, published today (June 8), show the trust’s share price rose 21.7 per cent in the period while its net asset value per share increased 16.4 per cent.

By comparison, the trust’s benchmark — the S&P Global Small Cap Index — declined by 13 per cent over the same period.

The trust’s managers, Baillie Gifford’s Douglas Brodie, Svetlana Viteva and Luke Ward, said the portfolio’s “striking” performance reflected the trust's positioning in what they called a “fast-forward mode” investment environment.

They said in the results: “The portfolio's performance at present is striking compared against its respective index over the past six months. 

“We believe this partially reflects an investment environment that, for the foreseeable future, will be in fast-forward mode further driving a widening divergence between the emerging winners and the structurally challenged. 

“In backing companies championing a wide breadth of technology and innovation we feel we remain on the right side of this fast-forwarding.”

The managers also noted they actively avoided a number of structurally challenged or overtly cyclical companies whereas the index, by default, could not.

They said a number of the portfolio’s tech holdings had been “advantaged” by the coronavirus crisis.

MarketAxess, a bond trading platform which accounts for 6 per cent of the trust’s holdings, saw its share price jump 27 per cent over the six months as heightened volatility and liquidity-induced stress in the bond markets helped drive increasing volumes of consumers towards the platform.

Online educational company Chegg rose 43 per cent as the closure of schools increased the importance of online learning tools while Teladoc, a telemedicine service provider, saw its share price rocket 120 per cent.

The trust was also helped by its holding in Tesla, which saw its share price jump 154 per cent over the time period and accounts for 4 per cent of the portfolio.

Other strong performers include Ocado, which benefited from the increase in home delivery, and drug developer Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, which jumped 55 per cent.

Looking forward, the managers were confident the pandemic would be advantageous for the portfolio long-term, claiming the crisis would drive a “lasting change in behaviours” and propel a “new wave of business opportunity”.

Baillie Gifford stated: “Covid-19, with its enforced and abrupt change in behaviours, simultaneously strikes a direct challenge to embedded scepticism and acts to melt away inertia. 

“The result is a removal of a bottleneck and an openness towards new and better ways of doing things.”