Major US Infrastructure networks overhaul planned if legislation passes
Infrastructure equities provide proven benefits to investors
Private finance and privatisation likely to be required
Will experienced, foreign operators be able to access the build-out?
The US government’s ambitious plan to overhaul the country’s infrastructure networks over the next decade provide a huge opportunity for investors, but uncertainties abound: how much of the proposed legislative framework will eventually be voted through, how to buy into what assets. and how much access foreign operators will be able to secure.
In this interview published in Fund Selector Asia, our CEO Jean Keller explains how concerns about family-owned companies tend to be distorted and how data shows they outperform their non-family counterparts.
Can you explain the strategy? What sets you apart from other managers in this space?
At QUAERO CAPITAL we believe that the best returns are often to be found in the companies that are the least well-followed. In spite of the fact that there are only 247 shares quoted on the SIX exchange, there are over 60 companies where there is no research coverage. Many of these companies are small and liquidity problems can deter larger fund managers. QUAERO CAPITAL can use its size to our advantage and invest in companies where others cannot.
Following company visits and new attractive prices, we have invested in three Swiss stocks for our European Small Companies strategy: Composite materials specialist Gurit, private bank EFG International and high precision machining company Tornos. With a total of 69 holdings, we will now be pruning smaller positions in coming months.
Investors have been hit as Carillion plc, a major UK construction and facilities management company, entered forced liquidation suddenly in January, creating negative sentiment for the entire social infrastructure sector in the UK.
Value investors are returning to Greece, hopeful that if improving macro economic conditions persist, the coming year will prove a major boost to Greek small cap stocks.
Uncertainties certainly persist: the government has still to agree a post-bailout strategy with the Troika of lenders (made up of the International Monetary Fund, The European Commission and the European Central Bank). There is an estimated EUR 1 billion shortfall in Greece’s proposed 2018 privatisation programme (which may impact personal tax and VAT measures), and an election cycle is set to begin soon.
After a strong start in the first quarter of the year, European stock markets have been consolidating but the core holdings of our Smaller European Companies strategy continue to benefit from economic growth across the region. Small cap stocks have coped with the strengthening Euro but further gains may start to have a negative impact on the competitive position of European exporting companies. The EUR106 million strategy, launched in 2007, is invested in 63 listed, partially family-owned European Smaller Companies.
The largest exposures in our Listed Infrastructure strategy are toll roads and tunnels (17%), diversified infrastructure companies (16%), and rail & bus (16%). Rail & bus, agricultural infrastructure and communications towers stocks were largely unchanged over the last month, while waste recycling (the smallest allocation), communications and social infrastructure (also a small allocation), performed poorly.
Recovery in southern Europe’s markets and stronger performance by manufacturing exporters have provided good support to value-driven European smaller companies strategies in recent months. Corporate confidence indicators have continued to improve across Europe as the fears of political risk have given way to the resurgence of the political mainstream, supporting manufacturing exporters which are more sensitive to the economic environment.