Although Doug Ledingham is a fairly junior portfolio manager, he is part of the Sustainable Funds Group at Stewart Investors and David Gait, a Stewart Investors veteran and portfolio manager of various other strategies, is both head of the team and named Co-PM on this strategy. This provides us with confidence in the approach and likely positioning from this strategy. At Stewart Investors their focus is on capital preservation, therefore you should expect this fund to be cautiously positioned in high quality businesses. As a result, the fund should outperform in falling markets, but lag when they rise strongly. Similarly to other funds in their suite, this portfolio has a structural bias to India and away from China.
The manager employs a fundamental, bottom-up investment approach, targeting companies deemed to have quality in either financials, management and/or franchise. In addition to this he analyses the sustainability of each business with a focus on those that are positive to the social and economic aspects of the country in which they operate. Stock research is conducted by a well-resourced team based in Australia, Singapore, London and Edinburgh. Investment ideas are primarily sourced from company visits, research trips, industry contacts and third party research - typically the team conduct over 1300 company meetings per year. Portfolio holdings typically have strong balance sheets, are cash generative, shareholder friendly and are able to grow their revenues and profits sustainably and predictably. The investment horizon is generally medium to long term and the manager avoids 'momentum' type stocks. The team uses its own proprietary research tools and prefers to meet management of businesses before and when it invests. Decision-making takes into account factors such as quality of research, team decisions and views, and the manager's own knowledge of the companies. Final stock decisions and portfolio construction are the responsibility of the portfolio manager.