Best In Class  

Best in Class: Premier Pan European Property Share

Best in Class: Premier Pan European Property Share

On 1 September 2018, the Investment Association will split its property sector into two. 

The 49 funds will be rearranged into either 'UK Direct Property' or 'Property Other'. 

The UK Direct Property sector will include funds investing in physical commercial and residential properties, student accommodation, leisure and healthcare.

The Property Other sector will accommodate everything else. It will still be a vast mix of funds investing in different geographies - but it is a start. 

My best in class this week will soon have its home in the IA Property Other sector.

Premier Pan European Property Shares has been managed by Alex Ross since 2005. The target is twofold: to generate income (currently 3.6 per cent), while also providing an attractive level of growth.

Mr Ross' process is based on a proprietary and quality-based stock modelling system, which is overlaid onto all the stock ideas, alongside a valuation criterion of price to prospective net asset value (NAV), and price to cash flow metrics.

The process serves two main purposes. First, it will highlight the best in class companies with proven track records.

Then, it will find the stocks that can improve and enhance their properties, moving them up the quality scale. Both of these elements will offer a level of protection should macro factors become negative.

The fund's lack of constraints allow Mr Ross to take large bets if he sees opportunities.

This flexibility can lead to periods where the fund lags its benchmark. However, over the long-term the manager has demonstrated lower volatility, better Sharpe ratios and fewer down periods than his benchmark over five and 10-year periods. 

Brexit is, of course, a consideration at the moment.

UK property companies, especially those with a London focus, are on a steep discount to NAV. But this could be an opportunity if Brexit turns out better than expected.

Mr Ross says that the management teams of London-focused companies are very cognisant of the risks and have been actively deleveraging and reducing their London exposure. Some have also been buying back their shares at the discounted price.

Europe is his main exposure currently and Germany has been his favourite area for five years or so.

There is a supply/demand imbalance there and a chronic shortfall in urban locations, which means rents are growing strongly. 

He also likes the Paris office market. Rents have been flat for the past decade but have picked up in the 18 months since President Emmanuel Macron came into power.

More confidence among business and consumers, and a tight planning system means supply is still catching up. 

Mr Ross also thinks Madrid and Barcelona office space is attractive.