e-fundresearch.com: What is the current size of the fund?
Wojciech Stanislawski: AUM €2.6bn (30/04/2014)
e-fundresearch.com: Do you also manage other funds or mandates? What is the total amount of assets you manage currently?
Wojciech Stanislawski: Yes. As Team Manager, I am responsible for the daily supervision and management of the fund managers and analysts within the Global Emerging Markets equity investment team (including LATAM and India) and ensuring that Comgest’s quality growth investment process is consistently applied and that all available tools (valuation models, data providers, software, research platforms, etc.) are diligently used in the research and decision making process.
Total assets managed across these three strategies as at Q1 2014 were as follows:
- GEM assets: €8.2bn (split between pooled funds and mandates)
- LATAM assets: €49m (pooled fund)
- India assets: €117m (pooled fund)
e-fundresearch.com: How long have you been in the business as a fund manager?
Wojciech Stanislawski: I carried out internships for various financial institutions in Poland before joining Comgest in 1999 and was named a Portfolio Manager of the flagship GEM “Magellan” fund in 2000.
e-fundresearch.com: What are the main steps in your investment process and in which area is your competitive edge to add value to investors?
Wojciech Stanislawski: Our investment approach is characterised by a tried and tested framework that focuses exclusively on investments in a limited number of quality growth companies with the aim of offering above-average, long-term returns while taking below-average risk. Improving on the traditional ‘growth at a reasonable price’ (GARP) investment style, the Comgest approach can best be characterised as quality, unconstrained and high conviction, typically resulting in lower volatility than reference benchmarks and better-than-average returns over the long term.
The earnings power potential of a company is based on our assessment of the quality of a company’s management and business model, as well as the industry environment, franchise strength and the ability of the firm to sustain organic growth. We apply a fundamental, bottom-up stock-picking approach; we believe that this is our primary source of alpha. Our portfolio managers strive to maintain an intimate knowledge of their investments, focusing the majority of their time on research and monitoring the validity of their investment theses. Our rigorous investment approach is designed to ensure that we only select companies that meet our strict quality criteria, including strong earnings visibility, exceptional business franchises, low cyclicality, high returns on equity, sustainable profit margins and self‐financing capabilities. Comgest’s long-term investment horizon typically leads to low portfolio turnover; most of our investments are held for more than three years.
- Both Comgest’s shareholder structure and our investment style ensure shared interests with long-term institutional investors
- A differentiated and proven investment strategy focused on concentrated portfolios of quality growth companies
- A truly long-term investment horizon and risk-averse approach
- A highly experienced, stable, international and complementary investment team
- A business owned by the staff, where all staff is motivated by the success of the whole business, thus encouraging team development and information sharing
- A disciplined and transparent investment approach
- A long-term track record demonstrating a capacity to outperform the benchmark, with lower volatility
- A sustainable approach to investing in companies as well as the way we structure our business
- A dedicated and highly responsive client servicing team, working closely to tailor information to individual client needs
e-fundresearch.com: How many positions does the portfolio usually contain and what is the average holding period of an investment?
Wojciech Stanislawski: There are 40 to 50 stocks in a typical Global Emerging Markets portfolio. We believe that this number of stocks achieves the diversification criteria for the GEM portfolio.
Subject to significant changes in the business environment, changes in management or wholesale changes in the business strategy of the company, once a company enters the investment universe it tends to stay there for quite some time and (subject to valuations) stays in the portfolio for typically 3-5 years.
e-fundresearch.com: To which extent does fund size impact the efficiency and effectiveness of your investment strategy?
Wojciech Stanislawski: Comgest’s GEM strategy is open to new investors. We believe it is of paramount importance to protect our ability to build and manage concentrated, high conviction portfolios. That is why we carefully monitor product capacity, prioritizing long-term investment performance over short-term asset gathering in order to maximise the returns delivered to our investors.
e-fundresearch.com: In which market environment does your investment strategy deliver the best (relative) results?
Wojciech Stanislawski: Our portfolios have historically performed best over the long term as well as during difficult market periods, especially when markets are fairly rational and are predominantly driven by earnings growth.
e-fundresearch.com: Which benchmark is most relevant and how should investors compare the fund vs. benchmarks or peer groups?
Wojciech Stanislawski: An index is used purely for comparative purposes. Our choice of stocks is independent of benchmarks and focuses on absolute performance, typically resulting in lower volatility than that of the reference index, the MSCI Emerging Markets net index. We do not follow any country or sector allocations.
e-fundresearch.com: Which performance did you achieve for the fund YTD and over the past five calendar years in absolute terms and relative to relevant benchmark or other reference indices?
Wojciech Stanislawski: Please find below the returns of Magellan C (as at 30/04/2014, net in euro):
e-fundresearch.com: Thank You!