Aberdeen New India owns a concentrated portfolio of stocks in India which are selected for the high quality of their financials and corporate governance. The trust draws on the research of a team of Asia-based managers led by Kristy Fong and James Thom with deep knowledge of the market and a differentiated approach developed over many decades of Aberdeen’s presence in the region.
Their analysis aims to uncover those companies which can sustainably grow their earnings and which should beat the market over the course of an investment cycle, with the focus on quality and repeatable earnings rather than cyclical winners having led to particularly strong performance in down years.
The trust offers exposure to the huge domestic market in India which is growing thanks to favourable demographics, with significant exposures to consumer staples companies and financial services companies which are rolling out services to the growing middle class.
The trust has outperformed the market handsomely over the past five years, with NAV total returns of 94.5% compared to the MSCI India’s returns of 70.3%. The vast majority of this is due to stock selection rather than industry allocation; a validation of the bottom-up approach the team takes.
In mid-2018 the managers took out a gearing facility which allowed them to take advantage of the cheap valuations in India in the second-half sell-off. They remain modestly geared at 4%, but in line with their cautious approach are unlikely to gear up further unless significant value emerges, such as another market sell-off.
The discount is at 12.3%, having come in substantially since Modi won re-election in May. However, it still remains wider than the average emerging markets trust, which trades on a discount of 8.4%.
The trust hasn’t paid a dividend since 2005, and is unlikely to do so this year, with the managers focused entirely on capital growth.
Aberdeen New India is an attractive way to play the long-term growth in the Indian domestic market which is being fuelled by the country’s favourable demographics. The discount makes this potentially an interesting entry point, although we recognise that sentiment is poor toward the global economy at the current time, even if the domestic situation in India is more positive. The trust has a proven tendency to outperform in down markets which should be attractive if the global economy does turn. Furthermore, the investment case for this trust is fundamentally a long-term one given the approach of the managers, and so the possibility of near-term volatility should be of secondary importance.
|A track record of outperformance thanks to stock-picking which validates the approach
||The trust does not pay a dividend
|A well-resourced team with a strong presence in the region||The portfolio is more expensive than the market, although this is due to the higher quality stocks it holds
|A focus on corporate governance which adds another way to boost shareholder returns