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 Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability

Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability

The strategy invests in 25-60 high-quality emerging markets companies that we consider to be well positioned to contribute to, and benefit from, sustainable development.   

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This information is a financial promotion for the Stewart Investors Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability Strategy intended for retail and professional clients in the UK only.

Investing involves certain risks including:

  • The value of investments and any income from them may go down as well as up and are not guaranteed. Investors may get back significantly less than the original amount invested.
  • Currency risk: the Fund invests in assets which are denominated in other currencies; changes in exchange rates will affect the value of the Fund and could create losses. Currency control decisions made by governments could affect the value of the Fund's investments and could cause the Fund to defer or suspend redemptions of its shares.
  • Emerging market risk: Emerging markets tend to be more sensitive to economic and political conditions than developed markets. Other factors include greater liquidity risk, restrictions on investment or transfer of assets, failed/delayed settlement and difficulties valuing securities.
  • Concentration risk: the Fund invests in a relatively small number of companies which may be riskier than a fund that invests in a large number of companies.

Where featured, specific securities or companies are intended as an illustration of investment strategy only, and should not be construed as investment advice or a recommendation to buy or sell any security.

For a full description of the terms of investment and the risks please see the Prospectus and Key Investor Information Document.

If you are in any doubt as to the suitability of our funds for your investment needs, please seek investment advice.

The Global Emerging Markets Sustainability All-Cap strategy launched in February 2009. Due to capacity constraints of the All-Cap strategy and strong demand and desire to offer clients an emerging markets solution, we launched the Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability strategy in April 2020. It invests in 25-60 high-quality emerging markets companies that we consider to be particularly well positioned to contribute to, and benefit from, sustainable development.

Leaders simply means that the strategy is focused on companies with a market cap value of at least USD1 billion.

Strategy highlights: a focus on quality and sustainability

  • Companies must contribute to sustainable development and make a net-positive impact to a more sustainable future. Portfolio Explorer >

  • We invest in high-quality companies with exceptional cultures, strong franchises and resilient financials. How we pick companies >

  • We avoid companies linked to harmful activities and engage and vote for positive change. Our position on harmful products >

  • Our approach is long-term, bottom-up, high conviction and benchmark agnostic

  • We focus on capital preservation as well as capital growth – we define risk as the permanent loss of client capital

Latest insights

Q3 2022

Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability strategy update: 1 July - 30 September 2022

Over the quarter, we exited our small position in Pidilite Industries (India: Materials). We believe Pidilite is undoubtedly one of the highest-quality companies in India and indeed in emerging markets.

Its dominant brands underpin a franchise with exceptional pricing power, run by extremely competent managers. The issue has been valuation. Over the last 10 years, the company’s price/earnings (P/E) ratio has expanded from 22x to 75x1. The small size of our holding – less than 1% of the portfolio – reflected our nervousness around valuations.

This is illustrative of our approach to valuation. We seek to invest in great companies and hold on to them for as long as possible. However, this has to be coupled with some sensible price discipline. There is a price at which even the very best companies can become poor investments. We know we are not able to accurately value companies to the second decimal point, and for this reason prefer not to be highly active on a daily basis in trimming and adding on small market movements. But we do act when we feel valuations have got so extreme as to minimise the probability of an attractive return going forward. Pidilite, we felt, had reached that point and so we chose, reluctantly, to sell.

The proceeds were reinvested in one new position, Delta Electronics (Taiwan: Information Technology). Delta is a company which we have known for a very long time, hold in our Asia strategies, and have held before in this strategy.

Delta’s products include equipment for industrial automation, IT infrastructure and power management. As experts in electrification and power management, the company is benefiting from tailwinds arising from the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, and from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. Its highly efficient solar inverters and electric vehicle (EV) charging equipment will be critical in helping emerging Asia shift to a more sustainable development path. Having proven over the last few years the company’s ability to benefit from these shifts, we felt comfortable reinitiating our holding following some share price weakness.

Lastly, we trimmed three Indian companies during the quarter: Mahindra & Mahindra (India: Consumer Discretionary), Dabur (India: Consumer Staples) and Info Edge (India: Communication Services). In each case, this was to contain position sizes given valuations, and to ensure our overall weighting in India did not continue to creep upwards over time with the good contribution Indian investments continue to make to overall performance.

In a scenario of increasing geopolitical tensions and macroeconomic uncertainty, we continue to believe that bottom-up analysis, a focus on fundamental quality and sustainable growth tailwinds, is the best route to tapping into the opportunities and protecting against the risks of investing in emerging markets.  

1. Source: FactSet as at 30 September 2022. The price/earnings ratio quoted is based on a twelve month forward-looking basis.

Source for company information: Stewart Investors investment team and company data. This stock information does not constitute any offer or inducement to enter into any investment activity. Portfolio data shown is from representative strategy accounts of the strategy shown above. Named new investments disclosed relate to holdings with a portfolio weight over 1%. It is not a recommendation or solicitation to purchase or invest in any fund. Differences between the representative account-specific constraints, currency or fees and those of a similarly managed fund or mandate would affect results.

Strategy update: Q2 2022

Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability strategy update: 1 April - 30 June 2022

During the second quarter, markets were exceptionally volatile and weak, as investors began to price in the likelihood of sustained inflation in the developed world, higher interest rates and the potential for global recession.

In the past, such episodes have tended not to be pleasant experiences for emerging markets, and the first half of 2022 has been no exception. 

At the time of writing, on a sector basis only utilities and financials have delivered a positive return year to date in emerging markets. Materials and energy have also held up relatively well, given rises in commodity prices. All told, beneficiaries of rising inflation and higher interest rates – banks, energy and commodity companies – have been comparatively strong. 

We rarely hold companies in these sectors for clients because they seldom meet our quality and sustainability requirements. In contrast, sectors like healthcare, technology and consumer staples – where we do tend to find attractive ideas – have been weaker. Performance over the very short term has been commensurately weak.

As is often the case during rapid deteriorations in investor sentiment, high-quality businesses with attractive growth prospects have been de-rated indiscriminately. We consequently initiated a total of five new positions during the quarter, most of which we have held before.

Some of these companies are those we feel are most likely to be the most resilient in the current environment. They include retailers Dino Polska (Poland) and Jerónimo Martins (Portugal): grocery stores tend to be resilient during periods of inflation.

We also initiated positions in two banks during the quarter: Banco Bradesco (Brazil) and Komerční banka (Czech Republic). Both had been de-rated to valuations around one times price to book with 7-8% dividend yields1 which could be attractive entry points.

We also re-initiated a position in pharmaceutical manufacturer Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories (India). The company’s earnings growth should be somewhat independent of the global macroeconomic environment, and shares had become more affordable.

We also added to a number of existing holdings which had suffered from more acute weakness, including Silergy Corp (Taiwan), Techtronic Industries (Hong Kong), and MercadoLibre (US listed, headquartered in Argentina). We remain convinced of the quality and attractive long-term growth prospects of these businesses, and so took the opportunity to purchase more shares at prices substantially below where they have traded lately.

We funded some of these purchases by reducing cash and trimming some companies which had held up relatively well, like Unicharm (Japan) and Mahindra & Mahindra (India). We also exited one small holding, Hualan Biological Engineering (China), in which we have found it difficult to build conviction in the ability of the company to mitigate growing competition from state-owned peers.

Going forward, it seems as though we are in a period of fairly unprecedented macroeconomic policy uncertainty. Monetary policy has shifted from ultra-loose to a rapid tightening with frantic speed, and may well overshoot, with accordantly dramatic impacts on equity prices in the short term. In such an environment, it seems less than fruitful to try to predict the near-term future direction of inflation or interest rates. Instead, we are focused on building portfolios full of resilient companies with long-term tailwinds which should benefit over the longer term from the opportunities in emerging markets.

1 Source: Bloomberg

Source for company information: Stewart Investors investment team and company data. This stock information does not constitute any offer or inducement to enter into any investment activity. Portfolio data shown is from representative strategy accounts of the strategy shown above. Named new investments disclosed relate to holdings with a portfolio weight over 1%. It is not a recommendation or solicitation to purchase or invest in any fund. Differences between the representative account-specific constraints, currency or fees and those of a similarly managed fund or mandate would affect results.

Strategy update: Q1 2022

Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability strategy update: 1 January - 31 March 2022

During the quarter we made a small number of meaningful transactions in the strategy.

After a more than 50% rally from its trough, we made the decision to exit our position in Alibaba (China). In light of the comparatively more muted growth prospects the company has going forward, a lower price-to-earnings or price-to-cash-flow multiple would seem appropriate. Our primary mistake has perhaps been in being too backwards looking in assessing quality of franchise. It is a truism, no less powerful for its simplicity, that all companies – indeed all organisations – are at any given time either strengthening or weakening relative to their competitors. The last two years have seen the company, encouraged by regulation designed to promote competition and weaken the market power of incumbents, slide into a much more competitive, capital intensive and less profitable position than it had been previously. 

We recycled some of the proceeds of Alibaba into a number of Chinese companies which we deem to be either lower risk or at an earlier stage of life (and thus enjoying greater prospects), or both. These have included the likes of Estun Automation, the leading domestic robotics manufacturer, and Yifeng Pharmacy Chain, a rapidly growing drug retail chain consolidating China’s highly fragmented market. We believe these companies to be aligned with the government of China and likely to benefit from strong growth and sustainability tailwinds for the foreseeable future.

We have been experiencing an unusual time in emerging markets lately, in particular the unusual combination of broadly weak markets combined with rapidly climbing energy prices. Our strategies do not invest in oil, gas or coal, and we are always likely to underperform on a relative basis for short periods when fossil fuel markets are rallying. As ever, our focus remains on long-term absolute returns, which we believe are best achieved through avoiding investing in fossil fuel-reliant businesses.

Indeed, broad market weakness during the quarter allowed us to build up position sizes in a number of our favourite companies. These included MercadoLibre (US-listed company operating in Latin America), Techtronic Industries (Hong Kong), Godrej Consumer Products (India) and Mahindra & Mahindra (India). In each case we have high conviction in quality as well as the long-term opportunity. We remain optimistic about the prospects for attractive long-term, risk-adjusted returns in emerging markets.

Source for company information: Stewart Investors investment team and company data. This stock information does not constitute any offer or inducement to enter into any investment activity. Portfolio data shown is from representative strategy accounts of the strategy shown above. Named new investments disclosed relate to holdings with a portfolio weight over 1%. It is not a recommendation or solicitation to purchase or invest in any fund. Differences between the representative account-specific constraints, currency or fees and those of a similarly managed fund or mandate would affect results.

Strategy update: Q4 2021

Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability strategy update: 1 October - 31 December 2021

In our Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability strategy, we exited two positions over the quarter; both weaker franchises in economies which are less likely to be resilient in a rising interest rates environment.

These were SPAR Group, the South African grocery retailer, and Banco Bradesco, one of Brazil’s largest financial conglomerates.

Both companies had been attractive to us a year or so ago based on what appeared, at the time, quite modest valuations; both companies have dividend yields over 5%. However, in our experience it can be difficult to preserve capital in companies that are by nature dependent on their local economic environment when those economies are sailing into solid global headwinds – as South Africa and Brazil appear to be now – even when they are trading at ostensibly cheap valuations.

As often as not, in companies like these without growth tailwinds, any value creation in local currency is more than offset by currency devaluation. Therefore, in countries like South Africa and Brazil, we tend to look for companies with sufficient growth to enable them to overcome the long-term impacts of devaluation. We believe this is our best chance of deriving attractive hard currency returns in these economies.

During the quarter, we re-initiated a position in a Brazilian electrical motor company that is an archetypal example of this kind of business. A world leader in motor efficiency, the company derives most of its sales outside Brazil, which means it is naturally hedged against devaluation. It is growing rapidly as it benefits from sustainable development tailwinds around energy efficiency, electric vehicles and renewable energy generation.

We had owned the company for many years but exited in late 2020 when we felt valuations had become excessive. In US$, the share price fell 23% in the year¹, to the point where we felt a small position is again an attractive addition to the portfolio.

We also initiated a small new position in a Chinese company; a leading drug store chain. We already own several such businesses (Raia Drogasil in Brazil and Clicks in South Africa), and we note numerous similarities between these companies and our new holding in China.

Leading drug stores benefit from a virtuous cycle that tends to see them consolidate fragmented local markets over time. Superior purchasing power and logistics efficiency enables lower costs, allowing large chains to offer reduced prices to consumers. This not only drives access to medicine for people at the bottom of the pyramid, but attracts more consumers and puts the company in an ever-better position over time to continue outcompeting smaller peers.

The result can be exceptional long-term value creation, when the model is run competently and is properly stewarded by high quality people. In the case of our new Chinese holding, the combination of a private entrepreneur as owner-manager as well as a cadre of executives who have joined from multinationals, means we believe the company can contribute positively to the portfolio over time.

The Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability strategy became available to investors in the United Kingdom in December 2021, and is now available in Europe.

1 Source: FactSet

Source for company information: Stewart Investors investment team and company data. This stock information does not constitute any offer or inducement to enter into any investment activity. Portfolio data shown is from representative strategy accounts of the strategy shown above. Named new investments disclosed relate to holdings with a portfolio weight over 1%. It is not a recommendation or solicitation to purchase or invest in any fund. Differences between the representative account-specific constraints, currency or fees and those of a similarly managed fund or mandate would affect results.

Q3 2022

Global Emerging Leaders Sustainability proxy voting: 1 July - 30 September 2022

Proxy voting by country of origin

Proxy voting by proposal category

During the quarter there were 182 resolutions from 21 companies to vote on. On behalf of clients, we voted against three resolutions.

We voted against the election of a director at Dabur as we do not believe they are truly independent. (one resolution)

We voted against Philippine Seven’s request for management to approve all other business matters before the annual general meeting (AGM) of shareholders. We consider ourselves active shareholders and prefer to vote on such matters at the AGM. (one resolution)

We voted against the election of the chairman of the audit committee at Vitasoy as the committee met less than four times during the last fiscal year. (one resolution)

Source for company information: Stewart Investors investment team and company data. This stock information does not constitute any offer or inducement to enter into any investment activity. Portfolio data shown is from representative strategy accounts of the strategy shown above. Proxy voting chart numbers may not add to 100 due to rounding. SHP means: Shareholder Proposal.

Proxy voting: Q2 2022

Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability proxy voting : 1 April - 30 June 2022

During the quarter, there were 352 resolutions from 30 companies to vote on. On behalf of clients, we voted against 13 and abstained on seven resolutions.

We voted against Amoy Diagnostics’ request to transfer product rights and equity to a subsidiary, and to amend authorised share capital, as we did not have sufficient information at the time of voting. (two resolutions)

We voted against the appointment of the auditor and the election of two directors at Hualan Biological Engineering. At the time of voting the company had not disclosed a breakdown of the fees paid to its auditor, and we do not believe the directors are truly independent. (three resolutions)

We voted against Natura's request to adopt cumulative voting and to recast votes for an amended slate of directors. We do not believe these requests are in shareholders’ interests. Unfortunately, due to an operational voting error, we abstained from voting on the company’s remuneration policy and the election of a candidate to the supervisory council. We had intended to vote for the remuneration policy, but had flagged areas to follow up with the company on. Our voting intention was to abstain from voting on the establishment of a supervisory council and a separate election for board members. This error did not have a material impact on the results of the meeting. (two resolutions against, two resolutions abstained)

We abstained from voting on the election of Raia Drogasil’s supervisory council as we were happy to support the candidates presented by the minority and preferred shareholders. As a result of this vote, we voted against the recasting of votes for the amended supervisory council slate. (one resolution against, one resolution abstained)

We voted against Totvs’ request to adopt cumulative voting and for permission to re-consider voting instructions should the meeting be held on second call. We do not believe these requests are in shareholders' interests. We abstained from voting on the company’s request to establish a supervisory council as we did not have sufficient information to know who we would be voting for. (two resolutions against, two resolutions abstained)

We voted against WEG’s request to adopt cumulative voting and to recast votes for the amended board and supervisory council slate. We do not believe these requests are in shareholders' interests. We abstained from voting for a minority candidate as we prefer to support the board. (three resolutions against, two resolutions abstained)

Source for company information: Stewart Investors investment team and company data. This stock information does not constitute any offer or inducement to enter into any investment activity. Portfolio data shown is from representative strategy accounts of the strategy shown above. Proxy voting chart numbers may not add to 100 due to rounding. SHP means: Shareholder Proposal.

Proxy voting: Q1 2022

Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability proxy voting: 1 January - 31 March 2022

During the quarter there were 56 resolutions from eight companies to vote on. On behalf of clients, we voted against one resolution.

We voted against the approval of fees to be paid to the directors and commissioners at Bank Central Asia as we believe they are excessive. (one resolution)

Source for company information: Stewart Investors investment team and company data. This stock information does not constitute any offer or inducement to enter into any investment activity. Portfolio data shown is from representative strategy accounts of the strategy shown above. Proxy voting chart numbers may not add to 100 due to rounding. SHP means: Shareholder Proposal.

Proxy voting: Q4 2021

As the strategy launched in December 2021, there is no proxy voting to report this quarter.

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For illustrative purposes only. Reference to the names of example company names mentioned in this communication is merely for explaining the investment strategy and should not be construed as investment advice or investment recommendation of those companies. Companies mentioned herein may or may not form part of the holdings of Stewart Investors. Holdings are subject to change.

Certain statements, estimates, and projections in this document may be forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon Stewart Investors’ current assumptions and beliefs, in light of currently available information, but involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual actions or results may differ materially from those discussed. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. There is no certainty that current conditions will last, and Stewart Investors undertakes no obligation to correct, revise or update information herein, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Source: Stewart Investors investment team and company data. Securities mentioned are all holdings which have/have had a portfolio weight over 0.5% from representative Asia Pacific Sustainability Strategy, Asia Pacific & Japan Sustainability Strategy, Asia Pacific Leaders Sustainability Strategy, European Sustainability Strategy, European (ex UK) Sustainability Strategy, Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability Strategy, Global Emerging Markets Sustainability Strategy, Indian Subcontinent Sustainability Strategy, Worldwide Sustainability Strategy and Worldwide Leaders Sustainability Strategy accounts up to 30 September 2022.

The Stewart Investors supports the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The full list of SDGs can be found on the United Nations website.

Source for Climate Solutions and impact figures: © 2014–2022 Project Drawdown (drawdown.org). Source for Human Development Pillars: Stewart Investors investment team.

Source for climate solutions and human development analysis and mapping: Stewart Investors investment team. Contributions are defined by the team as demonstrable contributions to any solution, either direct (directly attributable to products, services or practices provided by that company), enabling (supported or made possible by products or technologies provided by that company) or indirectly (companies that are involved in and around the solution). Indirect contributions are relevant for climate solutions only.

Investment terms

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Fund prices and details

Click on the links below to access key facts, literature, performance and portfolio information for the funds and share classes available in this jurisdiction:

Stewart Investors Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability Fund

Overview of Stewart Investors Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability Fund performance

Fund name Fund type Currency Price Daily change Price date
Stewart Investors Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability Class B (Acc) OEIC GBP 92.41 0.24 25 Nov 2022
Stewart Investors Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability Class E (Acc) OEIC GBP 92.56 0.24 25 Nov 2022
Stewart Investors Global Emerging Markets Leaders Sustainability Class Z (Acc) OEIC GBP 93.08 0.24 25 Nov 2022

Share prices are calculated on a forward pricing basis which means that the price at which you buy or sell will be calculated at the next valuation point after the transaction is placed. Where a fund price is marked XD, this means that the fund is currently Ex-Dividend. Past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance. The value of shares and income from them may go down as well as up and is not guaranteed. Please note that the yield quoted above is not the historic yield. It is considered that the yield quoted represents the current position of investments, income and expenses in the fund and that this is a more accurate figure. Investors may be subject to tax on their distribution. The yield is not guaranteed or representative of future yields. You should be aware that any currency movements could affect the value of your investment. The Funds within the First Sentier Investors Global Umbrella Fund plc (Irish VCC) are denominated in USD or EUR.