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13 Nov 2019

It's Time In The Market That Counts

After a period of underperformance in 2017 and 2018, I feel compelled to thank investors for their patience and placing their trust in Foord. We take
the stewardship of investments very seriously and look after investors’ savings with the same level of duty and care as we do our own.

Foord’s recent SA equity performance was terrible compared to our history and high standards. It is only the second time it has happened to us in 40 years. We are not comfortable with that; we are very unhappy about it. Part of the underperformance was timing, which is already unwinding. Headwinds in some instances are becoming tailwinds.

As Chief Investment Officer of Foord’s South African and global operations, I am intimately involved with the investment decisions on all portfolios. There are seven multiple-counsellor portfolio managers at Foord besides me. Each has from four to 15 years’ experience at Foord. Aggregate investment experience approaches 200 years. We have a team of seasoned analysts supporting them.

Foord is an investment house, not merely an equity house. Our asset allocation calls have been very good and are increasingly vindicated. The asset allocation funds we manage across the full equity spectrum (Foord Flexible, Foord Balanced, Foord Conservative and Nedgroup Investments Stable Funds) have performed very well this year and over all long-term periods that matter, despite poor short-term SA equity selection.

Foord Flexible is top ranked in its sector since its April 2008 launch. Foord Balanced is in the top five funds over 15 years, Foord Conservative is top quartile over its five-year life and Nedgroup Investments Stable Fund which Foord has managed from its inception is first over ten years.

We are not complacent; my team and I are committed to doing the best we can for our investors. We continue to improve our investment processes as we seek to manage investment risks before chasing returns.

The portfolios are all cautiously constructed within their respective mandates as we emphasise capital preservation at this point in the cycle. Over 20% of the average long-term equity and 80% of the average long-term listed property allocation is on standby awaiting a buying opportunity (for now invested in medium-dated bonds earning inflation plus 5%). Cash, bonds and dollar cash proxy assets make up around 40% of the multi-asset portfolios.

Depending on the fund, from 45% to 75% of the portfolio is invested in the Foord global funds and rand hedge counters, which protect investors against currency depreciation and consequent inflationary pressures.

We prefer the earnings prospects and resilience of global equities and JSE-listed overseas companies to SA companies exposed to the weak local economy. We nevertheless hold some protection against a large decline in the US S&P 500 index.

The funds are exceptionally well diversified and positioned for risks and opportunities that lie ahead. Please be patient, stay invested and apply “wait” to the asset class weighting. We expect to achieve outsized returns again in the years ahead. Thank you for your continued support.

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