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Mid Caps: Der Sweet Spot für europäische Stock Picker?

Moni Sternbach, Manager des Man GLG European Mid-Cap Equity Alternative, im Interview über zunehmende Ineffizienzen im europäischen Mid Cap Universum und die Risiken & Chancen von verstärkter M&A-Aktivität. Managers | 26.08.2015 13:30 Uhr
Moni Sternbach, Man GLG European Mid-Cap Equity Alternative / ©  Man Group
Moni Sternbach, Man GLG European Mid-Cap Equity Alternative / © Man Group Moni Sternbach, you are the fund manager of the Man GLG European Mid-Cap Equity Alternative fund. When did you take over the responsibility of managing this fund and what is your overall experience in managing absolute return strategies? Moni Sternbach: I have managed this fund since its launch on 1st April 2015.

I previously managed European Mid Cap Long Short strategies at Cheyne Capital (April 2012- November 2014).

Also prior to this I was the manager of a Pan European Smaller Companies strategies at Gartmore between Jan 2006 and April 2011 What was Man GLGs motivation to launch an absolute return fund in the European mid cap space? What are the arguments in favour of this particular market segment?

Moni Sternbach: We believe the European mid-cap equity market segment has become an increasingly compelling asset class for stock pickers due to poor and worsening sell-side analyst coverage, which provides the potential for us to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns for investors.

The strategy fits very well within the Man GLG investment framework and offers significant synergies with the European stock picking team and its sector specialists. What are the main steps in your investment process and in which area is your competitive edge to add value to investors? Which specific factors are triggering buy- and sell-decisions?

Moni Sternbach: We employ a disciplined investment research process driven by an extensive meetings programme with company management along with a proprietary analytical process and a life-cycle view of companies.

We use our own screening, research and valuation techniques with the aim to locate opportunities where the assessment of a company and its stock value differs from the market perception of the company and its stock price. What is your approach to risk management?

Moni Sternbach: We seek to build diversified portfolios with low market direction (i.e. low correlation to the market). We aim to generate our returns primarily from stock specific or idiosyncratic factors and seek to minimise non stock specific factor risk (such as sector or country exposure).

We use internal and third party risk management tools to monitor portfolio risk metrics and various factor exposures. These tools are also used for performance attribution. A system of flags and hard limits is in place at the fund level covering metrics including gross & net exposure, concentration, country risk, sector risk and liquidity.

At the firm level, an independent risk management team monitors a set of risk parameters including market risk, style drift, asset/liability mismatch, counterparty risk, asset performance verification and operations risk. How many positions does the portfolio usually contain and what is the average holding period of an investment?

Moni Sternbach: 50-70[1] positions (typically 35 longs and 25 shorts) What is the current size of the fund and to which extent does fund size impact the efficiency and effectiveness of your investment strategy?

Moni Sternbach: We just started marketing the fund, and currently have $41m in this UCITS fund. We are hoping to achieve around $130-150m assets under management by year end.

We also manage around $400m of capital allocated from other existing European and Global strategies.

We believe we have capacity of $1bn in the Mid Cap portfolios we are managing at GLG and can run this with minimal changes to investment style and effectiveness Relative to competitors: In which market environment should your investment strategy be able to deliver superior results?

Moni Sternbach: We aim to perform across the economic cycle and are relatively style agnostic (for example we are not consistently biased towards quality or growth stocks)

We strive to outperform when prices are being driven by stock specific factors as opposed to macroeconomic factors and when correlation between stock prices is low. We believe that this is the case at present. What are your personal lessons learned from year-to-date market developments and what will be biggest challenges in your market segment going forward?

Moni Sternbach: Equity markets in Europe have been relatively strong so far this year reflecting expectations of recovery, and in response to macro tailwinds such as a weaker Euro and a lower oil price.

With low funding and optimistic management teams there is also increased chances of mergers and acquisitions (“M&A”). One personal lesson this year is to place increased emphasis on the risk of M&A when analysing a company – e.g. could the company we are valuing be worth more to someone else (a trade player with synergies, or a tax structure that could be optimised), or does the company’s assets have scarcity value (e.g. the last remaining independent player in its industry).

We also believe our asset class is structurally becoming increasingly inefficient over time due to reduced number of research analysts covering mid-cap equities. This generally makes it a more favourable for bottom up stockpickers such as ourselves with an emphasis on meeting management teams. This also poses challenges because as the breadth and quality of research deteriorates we need to rely more on our own internal research process. Thank you!

Important Considerations

  • The value of an investment and any income derived from it can go down as well as up and investors may not get back their original amount invested. Alternative investments can involve significant additional risks.
  • The value of investments designated in another currency may rise and fall due to exchange rate fluctuations. Adverse movements in currency exchange rates may result in a decrease in return and a loss of capital. It may not be possible or practicable to successfully hedge against the currency risk exposure in all circumstances.
  • The Fund is permitted to invest in financial derivative instruments (instruments whose prices are dependent on one or more underlying asset). The use of financial derivative instruments involves additional risks such as high sensitivity to price movements of the asset on which it is based, a counterparty to a non-exchange traded financial derivative instrument may not meet its payment obligations in the event of default, and their use may result in increased leverage. These risks may lead to significant losses.
  • Before making investment decisions you are recommended to obtain advice from a qualified investment adviser.

[1] The limits and/or targets illustrate the Investment Manager’s current intentions, and are subject to change without notice.
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