Standard Life UK Smaller Companies Trust holds faith in long-term outlook

Standard Life UK Smaller Companies Trust is touting its long-term investment appeal after pointing to an “uncomfortable backdrop” for investors of late.

Manager Harry Nimmo - cautious over Brexit and threat of trade wars. Picture: Contributed

The trust, which has net assets of more than £540 million, recorded another 12 months of outperformance against its benchmark index and has also outperformed over three, five and ten years.

On a total return basis, over the year, net asset value (NAV) fell by 1.1 per cent, compared with the 7.2 per cent decline in the Numis Smaller Companies plus Aim (ex investment companies) Index.

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The trust said it had been “a year of two halves”. The interim report for the six months to 31 December 2018 reported a NAV total return of -19.5 per cent, marking the worst first half to a financial year since 2008.

However, during the first half of 2019, NAV total return was 22.9 per cent – the strongest second half to a financial year since launching in 2003. The total dividend for the year of 7.7p marks a 10 per cent increase on the year before.

Fund manager Harry Nimmo said: “The two over-arching ‘macro’ issues going forward remain Brexit and the threat of trade wars. Bad outcomes in both cases could cause mayhem far beyond the realm of UK smaller companies.

“Smaller company investing should be viewed as a long-term investment and we have no doubt that patient investors will be rewarded in the longer term. Our stable process has been seasoned by fully four economic cycles. I remain very optimistic about the future of the company in the long term.”

Chairman Allister Langlands added: “This is not a comfortable backdrop for investors. The emphasis on risk aversion, quality and resilience, growth and momentum remains unchanged.”