Update on Echiquier Agenor SRI Mid Cap Europe - May 2020
Following a 34% increase in its net asset value in 2019, Echiquier Agenor SRI Mid Cap Europe managed to limit its decline to -0.47% in 2020 (-16.69% for its index) despite a health and economic crisis of an unprecedented scale.
This proven ability to outperform so far regardless of market configuration is based on highly selective stock picking.
We invest in a limited number of ambitious growth projects following a structured process.
A marriage of daring and prudence that is the DNA of the fund.
With € 1.5 billion in assets under management, our ambition for Echiquier Agenor SRI Mid Cap Europe remains unchanged: to build one of the very first European mid-cap growth funds, combining performance, taking into account ESG challenges and managing the volatility.
THE CONJUNCTURAL OPERATIONS
The clear outperformance of the fund since the beginning of the year is based on 4 main pillars:
– A strengthened positioning in visible growth stocks capable of maintaining high profitability over time.
These “structural winners” represent nearly 80% of the portfolio.
– Favourable stock selection, with stocks that held up well and an absence from the sectors most affected by the crisis.
– Substantial work on the fund’s liquidity: in particular, we had increased the upper limit of our investment universe to 10 billion euros in 2019, and noted that the most liquid stocks held up better during the correction.
– Maintaining a strict discipline on the valuation and management of weightings.
Against a backdrop of strong market rebound in 2019 and high valuations, we had limited the investment rate to 82% at the beginning of the year.
We used part of this liquidity to cautiously strengthen good stocks during the market correction.
Your fund has been exposed for several years to the in-vitro diagnostics sector – nearly 10% of the portfolio so far – with DIASORIN, BIOMERIEUX and TECAN. We believe this sector has attractive fundamentals: growth of 5% per year, strong recurring activity, high levels of profitability.
BIOMERIEUX stands out for the growth in its molecular diagnostics activity, DIASORIN for its high profitability (30% operating margin) and TECAN for its ability to support major players in the sector in the development of platforms.
We believe these 3 stocks could see a sharp acceleration in growth in 2020, driven by the need for Covid-19 tests.
This crisis highlights the key role of in-vitro diagnostics, on which most medical decisions are based, even though they account for less than 5% of health spending.
Although we have slightly reduced our positions following the sharp rise in prices, our conviction remains strong in this sector whose strategic value should be further strengthened.
It has been more than 5 years since your management team repositioned the fund on growth, with the implementation of a structured investment process.
While this strategy has proven successful – + 54% over the last 5 years against + 10% for its index, with lower volatility -, the management team intends to further strengthen the investment process.
Obtaining the French State’s SRI label at the end of 2019 is part of this approach.
We believe that incorporating ESG criteria into our management will create value: it reinforces our knowledge of the companies and the selectivity of our stock picking, which we believe are key to outperforming in a demanding market environment.
The Fund is mainly exposed to capital loss risk, equity risk and risk associated with investing in small and mid-cap equities.
 Over 1, 3 and 5 years: + 11.5%, + 27.1% and + 53.8% vs -2.6%, -3.2% and + 10.3% for the MSCI EUROPE SM CAP NR
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