Investment Universe, Process, Strategy and Benchmark – How does the Fund Manager invest? (ISIN: LU0303816028)The Fund´s investment objective is to generate long-term capital growth through investing primarily in securities of companies having their head office or exercising a predominant part of their activity in less developed countries of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe (including Russia), Middle East and Africa that are considered as emerging markets according to the MSCI EM Europe, Middle East and Africa Index. The fund´s benchmark is the MSCI Emerging Markets EMEA (5% capped) index, which limits the exposure of any one company within the index to a maximum of 5 percent. The index is representative of the broad opportunity set within this market.
In addition to an assistant Emerging EMEA portfolio manager, the manager has access to five analysts that are dedicated to this region as well as several other Fidelity analysts that cover Emerging EMEA companies within their remit.
The manager is a valuation focused investor following a disciplined bottom up approach to investing. He will typically invest in companies with the following features:
- Proven track record of delivering strong ROE
- Dominant market positions
- Strong balance sheets
- Potential to deliver and increase free cash flow returns to investors
- Within this context, opportunities must look favourable on valuations
Performance Review 2007
Performance Review 2008
Nick Price: "The EMEA region was not immune to the ferocious pullback witnessed in 2008 as risk aversion heightened amid the deteriorating global demand outlook and deepening liquidity crisis. While economists spoke of ‘de-coupling’ before the onset of the financial crisis, in reality the region moved in-line with developed markets with the exception of Russia which fared worse in the correction in relative terms. While absolute performance in 2008 was very painful, relative returns were encouraging. Holdings in selected consumer staples and retail stocks proved relatively resilient to the fall in global equity markets with positions in defensive ´safe-havens´ such as Shoprite, the South African based retailer and British American Tobacco notable contributors. Strong stock selection and an overweight in the materials sector benefited and avoiding some of the major underperformers in Russia such as fertilizer manufacturer Uralkali and metals producer Norilsk Nickel also proved rewarding."
Performance Review 2009
Nick Price: "From the market lows in March, EMEA equities staged a huge comeback in a rally that ultimately lasted for five consecutive quarters. 2009 was characterised by significant divergences between individual markets within the region, both in the downturn and in the recovery. It was the fund’s ability to capitalise on these divergences as well as to exploit stock picking opportunities elsewhere that helped drive relative performance. I avoided Eastern Europe almost entirely over the period (due to concerns of a fundamental currency mismatch in corporate and consumer borrowing) choosing instead to hold overweight positions Russia and South Africa as well as UK listed companies with emerging market operations. Turkish commercial bank Turkiye Vaklifar, low-cost steel producer Mechel and UK-listed Aspen Pharmacare were key contributors to performance in what was a stellar year for both the fund and EMEA equities as a whole."
Performance Review 2010
Nick Price: "During the year, the fund significantly outperformed the benchmark. Returns were driven by both stock and sector selection. Stock selection was particularly beneficial in the consumer discretionary, energy and financial holdings whereas positions in certain healthcare names such as pharmaceuticals companies detracted. Within consumer discretionary, holdings in South African stocks such as media and internet company Naspers drove relative returns upwards. In the energy sector, the off benchmark position in a Russian oil equipment company benefited as did the overweight in a Russian domestic gas producer. Within financials, positions in South African banks aided relative returns."
Performance Review 2011
Nick Price: "Over the year, Emerging Europe, Middle East and African (EMEA) stocks struggled as concerns over the sovereign debt crisis in peripheral Europe continued to weigh on investor sentiment. Prices of industrial commodities also fell amid signs of a slowdown in China’s economy.
The fund performed in line with its index during the year with strong stock selection in materials and the overweight in consumer staples contributing to returns. Conversely, the fund’s overall energy positioning detracted from performance.
Within materials, the decision to be overweight precious metals at the expense of base metals proved rewarding. With the high rand gold price, South African producers began to generate positive free cash flow for the first time in almost a decade.
On the other hand, the underweight in the energy sector prior to the Arab Spring hurt performance as did the decision to move overweight during the uprisings in the Middle East. In addition, the exposure to the UK listed oil e&ps that are active in the region detracted from returns in September given the risk aversion.
On a country basis, the overall underweight exposure in Russia, Turkey, Eastern Europe and Egypt all contributed to returns whereas the off benchmark position in the UK detracted. We sought to avoid Turkey because of concerns over the country’s unorthodox monetary policy, rising inflation, falling lira exchange rate and slowing industrial output, which benefited the fund. We also did not hold much in Poland and Hungary due to their low growth economic dynamics, high indebtedness and vulnerability of the region’s banks to a strong Swiss Franc; all factors which came to hurt and led to significant weakness in these markets during the year."
Performance 2012 - Year-to-Date
Nick Price: "The fund underperformed the index during January. The month was very much characterised by a “risk-on” mindset as struggling countries and lower quality companies tended to outperform. Within the fund, on a sector basis, stock selection across financials, consumer staples, energy and industrials disappointed. On a country basis, stock selection in Nigeria, South Africa and Russia detracted, while the underweight in Turkey also hurt returns. The overweight in South African food retailer Shoprite also detracted in line with other consumer staple names such as the off-benchmark holding in SABMiller.
Looking ahead, energy producers and miners within the region should benefit from their countries’ weaker currencies, while those companies in the consumer staples sector delivering sustainable, high-cash returns are expected to continue to enjoy a premium.
Overall, the emerging EMEA market is expected to experience volatility in the year ahead, much like that of the west, but the long term case for investing in the region remains strong."
Performance since 2007
Nick Price: "Since the inception of the fund, the portfolio has been managed by Nick Price. During this time, the fund has outperformed the benchmark, from both a stock selection and sector allocation basis. Specifically, materials have been the lead contributor. In addition, overweights in Sberbank and well timed holdings in other banks have benefited."