Meet the Manager - The Bankers Investment Trust
Alex Crooke joined Henderson Global Investors in 1994, having spent four years as an investment analyst specialising in US equities. Alex first started his investment career in 1990, after leaving Manchester University with a degree in Astrophysics. His first role was as an investment analyst covering US companies before moving to join Henderson in 1994. At Henderson, he initially focused on UK stocks and managed a number of income-based unit trust and investment trust portfolios. Since 1997, he has developed a value-based investment style. Alex has managed The Bankers Investment Trust PLC since 2003. He has also managed Henderson High Income Trust plc since 1997.
Fund Manager's Commentary - March 2013
Confidence in stock markets remained at elevated levels during March, despite the Cyprus bailout and sequestration talks in the US. The US market was very strong benefiting from continued good news in the housing market, as transactions, house prices and new building permits all increased. Manufacturing was more muted, probably reflecting the slow progress in Europe. Japanese equities also performed strongly, although this was a consequence of the sharp fall in the value of the yen. The Japanese are intent on increasing inflation and growth within the domestic economy which, if successful, should improve profitability from the corporate sector. Bankers has maintained a reasonable exposure to Japan and the solid progress from the region this year has aided performance.
Other areas were much more subdued in March. Europe and the UK were clearly affected by the newsflow from Cyprus, as economic growth remained elusive. The Asian markets were also flat as the new leadership in China indicated that they wanted to reduce lending from the non-banking sector.
The strong start to the year from financial markets has not been accompanied by a meaningful pick-up in corporate profit forecasts, although dividend declarations have exceeded expectations, with a healthy increase in special dividends. Global forecasts for growth remain resilient and in time, the prospects in Europe and Asia should increase, especially from the companies exposed to the US economy. The gearing in Bankers has been reduced over the month but the key exposures remain and we are confident in our stock selection.
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