Erik Esselink: "Performance of the fund was broadly in line with the MSCI Europe Small Cap Index until around May. After that point the fund posted very strong absolute and relative performance, ending the year comfortably ahead of the index. Large weightings in financial services, media, health and software & IT proved to be most beneficial on a sector level, while avoiding banks in general was also fruitful. Conversely energy and industrial machinery exposure was relatively weak.
On a stock level, star performance came from Marcolin (classified as a health company). Marcolin and it subsidiaries design, manufacture, distribute and market traditional and designer eyeglass frames and sunglasses, ski goggles, sports eyewear and accessories. Elsewhere there was strong performance from private equity firm KKR and Tetragon Financial. Media stocks were also strong over the period with holdings in Sky Deutschland, Kabel Deutschland and Seloger.com all providing strong upside for the fund. Exposure to Norwegian energy company Flex LNG and insurer Ageas weighed on relative performance over the year."
Performance Review 2010
Erik Esselink: "Performance was again ahead of the MSCI Europe Small Cap Index throughout the year, with particularly strong performance during the latter part of the year. Strong fund returns were driven by large overweight positions in financial services while transport & distribution was also a key driver of outperformance. Elsewhere there were good contributions from the insurance and construction sectors. On a stock level, standout performance came from financial services firms Fortis and Tetragon Financial. GPE Eurotunnel, Dockwise and VTG were all strong performers within the transport & distribution sector while ING (insurance) and BAM Groep (construction) also benefited the fund."
Performance 2011 - Year-to-Date
Erik Esselink: "Once again the fund has performed well – comfortably ahead of the MSCI Europe Small Cap Index. Overweight positions within media and non-food stores have been key in driving outperformance so far in 2011, while a general underweight stance towards banks have also been good for relative performance. Media holdings in Sky Deutschland and Kabel Deutschland have been particularly strong, while within the leisure sector Euro Disney, buoyed by good first quarter revenues, has also been a good performer. 1855, the French online wine retailer, reported strong sales growth during the first quarter, resulting in a sharp uptick in its share price."
Performance seit 2006
Investment Process and Strategy – How does the Fund Manager Invest?
The fund manager Erik Esselink takes a twin track to targeting outperformance. The fund manager´s key philosophy is that those businesses that demonstrate an ability to generate superior returns over a concistent period of time, will outperfrom. Of equal importance is a philosophy of valuation discipline that aims to invest only in those companies where we feel the market has undervalued a company´s prospects. At the core, and accounting for the majority of the fund´s investments therefore, is a selection of longer term investments. These names are the result of detailed analysis and screening aimed at uncovering those companies that demonstrate superior operational returns and are attractively valued.
The second, and smaller,group of companies into which the fund is invested is a series of ´special situations´. These are more opportunistic investments that are a typical feature of investing in smaller companies. They can involve corporate activity, rights issues, holding company discount closures, amongst others.
Erik Esselink: "We believe that European equities are the global value play. While question marks will remain over the process of crisis resolution in Europe, we believe that the period of systemic risk is becoming increasingly containable. We also believe, that in the period of deleveraging that will continue to characterise markets for some time to come, growth will be subdued. Despite this, we believe that we are on a recovering path, which provides a constructive backdrop for the asset class. Valuations are also attractive, with the risk premium on European equities continue to discount risks which we believe are increasingly behind us. Stock picking remains the key. Detailed analysis to identify the most attractive risk reward opportunities is an ever important feature of our work and is as imprtant now and going forward, as ever."