e-fundresearch: Mr Thomas Beevers, you are the fund manager of the BNY Mellon Pan European Fund (ISIN: IE0004144857), a fund managed by Newton Investment Management. Since when are your responsible for the fund management?
Beevers: I have been running the BNY Mellon Pan European Fund since May 2007. I have been a fund manager at Newton since 2004.
e-fundresearch: Which benchmark do you adhere to?
Beevers: FTSE Eurotop 300
e-fundresearch: Are you also responsible for other funds at the moment?
Beevers: I manage four other funds under the same strategy
e-fundresearch: What is the total volume that you manage in all your funds?
Beevers: Total volume for the Pan European strategy is EUR 120m. Together with other strategies on the European desk, we run over EUR 5bn in European Equities.
e-fundresearch: How content are you with your own performance in the last years and this year?
Beevers: The fund has been first quartile over a 3 year and 5 year period. Newton has had the same approach to investment since it was founded over 30 years ago, and the success of our approach is demonstrated by our long term record. So I am pleased that the performance of this fund continues to vindicate that approach. Year to Date has been more disappointing, with the fund now in the third quartile. This is primarily due to the outperformance of financials in which we have a large underweight. As a long-term oriented fund, from time to time there will be quarters that are disappointing, but I would urge investors to always look at the longer term record.
e-fundresearch: How are you able to deliver added value for your investors with your performance?
Beevers: I believe there are three key drivers of performance at Newton:
1. A powerful research engine. We have a team of 28 global career analysts, many of which have had a number of year experience within their relevant industries. We aim to choose stocks which are global leaders, have a strong competitive advantage and are trading at reasonable valuations.
2. A long term thematic approach. This avoids excessive focus on the short term noise and allows us to concentrate on those areas of the market which can generate outperformance over a multi-year period.
3. A focused porfolio of 40-50 stocks. This ensures that the fund benefits fully from Newton’s highest conviction ideas.
e-fundresearch: How long have you been a fund manager already?
Beevers: 5 years
e-fundresearch: What were your biggest successes and your biggest disappointments in your career as fund manager?
Beevers: I believe that a successful fund manager is not defined by individual ‘successes’ or ‘failures’. Inevitably a good fund manager will have plenty of both in their career. Ofter events beyond our control will cause a fundamentally strong stock to perform badly or vice-versa. Key to long term outperformance is ensuring that the ‘successes’ generate strong upside, but that ‘failures’ have a limited impact. This means investing with a ‘margin of safety’.
e-fundresearch: What kind of capital market situation do we have at the moment? How do you act in this environment?
Beevers: The global economy is showing signs of improvement from a low base. The US housing market appears to be stabilising somewhat, industrial production is rising and corporates are starting to gain confidence in a recovery. This has been reflected in the strong performance of the European markets, which are now roughly 45% up from their trough. At Newton our approach is based on bottom-up stock picking and therefore we analyse opportunities in this market as we would in any other environment. We continue to look for stocks with strong fundamentals, trading at attractive valuations and with long-term thematic drivers.
e-fundresearch: What are the special challenges in this environment?
Beevers: The first half of 2009 saw the greatest contraction in GDP for over 50 years. We are now seeing signs of recovery from this extreme position, and as a result the economic data is fluctuating wildly. The challenge when interpreting this data involves differentiating between short term noise and fundamental change. As a result we expect the markets to remain highly volatile for some time to come.
e-fundresearch: What objectives do you have till the end of the year and in the mid term for the upcoming 3 to 5 years?
Beevers: As always, we aim to generate a strong level of outperfomance against the benchmark over the mid and long term
e-fundresearch: Do you model yourself on someone? Any ideals?
Beevers: It’s important to aim high and you can’t do better than the investment greats Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffet. The concepts that Benjamin Graham laid out in his book ‘The Intelligent Investor’ remain as relevant today as they did 60 years ago (including the ‘margin of safety’ concept referred to above). Warren Buffet trained under Benjamin Graham and has had a hugely successful career based on straightforward principles and a contrarian streak. I beileve that many of these principles can be applied to what we do at Newton.
e-fundresearch: What motivates you in your job?
Beevers: I enjoy hugely what I do and the challenges that the job brings. Each day is different and might involve meeting a CEO, visiting a company site or discussing an investment case with my colleagues. Most rewarding of all is to see the result of all this work reflected in the success of the fund.
e-fundresearch: What else do you want to achieve or do you have any further aims as a fund manager?
Beevers: As a fund manager, I believe focus should always be on performance over anything else. Unlike at many other firms, Newton’s fund managers are incentivised on performance but not on size of AUM. Of course it’s always nice to see new money coming in, but looking after existing clients is always the priority.
e-fundresearch: What other profession would you have taken interest in, apart from becoming a fund manager?
Beevers: Given my scientific background, probably a nuclear physicist. With an impending crisis in the world’s energy supply (one of Newton’s long term themes), I expect there will be a huge demand for these kind of jobs in the future!
e-fundresearch: Thank you for the interview!