Congratulations to Public Mutual for another double win for the second successive year. It is no easy feat to achieve, considering the tough market in 2021.
On hand to share more insights on their success, we spoke to Chiang Kang Pey, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Public Mutual.
Key Factors Behind These Two Wins?
Our key strategy behind both wins is our adherence to a fundamental investment approach of focusing on companies with sustained earnings, strong financial positions and proven track records. Despite the elevated levels of market volatility in 2021, the portfolios of our winning funds – PB Asia Equity Fund (PBAEF) and Public Islamic Alpha-40 Growth Fund (PIA40GF) – were rebalanced accordingly in line with the changing trends in the respective markets, sectors and industries that the funds were invested in.
Steps Taken For Best Chance Of Continued Growth?
In 2021, PBAEF, which focuses its investments in the Asian markets, locked in profits from selected growth stocks and positioned in semiconductor-related stocks within the Asian region which benefitted from the shortage of chips amid supply chain disruptions and China’s localisation trend. In addition, the fund’s performance was lifted by its holdings of North Asian technology and electric vehicle-related stocks which ride on the structural trends of digitalisation and the increased focus on cleaner energy solutions.
Meanwhile, PIA40GF, which focuses its investments in the domestic market, continued to capitalise on technology and basic materials stocks which stood to benefit from the long-term digitalisation trend as well as the strength in commodity prices. The fund also locked in gains from selected technology stocks at the end of 2021 amid concerns over the potential rise in global interest rates.
To ensure the long-term growth of our funds, we constantly assess and monitor the long-term prospects of our investee companies’ business models and strategies – including their pricing power, market dominance, growth potential as well as the competitive landscape. These strategies have proven to work well for the performance of our funds.
Strategies That Have Shifted In Line With Market Forces?
Despite the decline in the severity of symptoms for the newer Covid-19 Omicron variant, the evolving nature of this virus could mean that potentially new and unpredictable variants may emerge. Nevertheless, barring unforeseen circumstances, the global economy is anticipated to continue on its path towards recovery amid the easing of movement restrictions and the re-opening of international borders as governments increasingly transition towards policies to ‘live with Covid’.
Tightening monetary policies by global central banks, global supply chain disruptions as well as sanctions triggered by the current geopolitical conflict between Russia and Ukraine have also led to elevated levels of volatility in global financial markets this year.
That said, the domestic and Asian markets – which PIA40GF and PBAEF focus their investments on – are less exposed to the geopolitical risks in Europe. As such, both funds will continue to invest in selected recovery plays within the local and regional markets such as the financial, energy and commodities sectors, as well as selected consumer discretionary and leisure stocks.
The funds will also continue to position for the long-term growth potential of the technology sector which will benefit from the increasing adoption of digital products and services as well as the rise of automation, online shopping and hybrid/ remote working arrangements.
Upcoming Trends For Investors?
Global markets may continue to experience volatility and uncertainties in the short term amid the normalisation of monetary policies by major central banks in response to elevated inflation levels, as well as the current Russia-Ukraine conflict which has exacerbated global supply chain disruptions and inflationary pressures. Meanwhile, the performance of the China stock market will depend on whether the Chinese government will continue to implement policies on sectors such as technology and real estate which may impact their profitability or earnings visibility.
In addition to the recovery plays which will benefit from the re-opening of international borders and the lifting of social-distancing restrictions, investors are expected to focus on sectors that are more defensive such as utilities and consumer staples amidst the uncertainty surrounding the global economic outlook. Sectors that will benefit from the impact of high inflation such as the commodity, basic materials and energy sectors which have staged a strong performance compared to the broader markets thus far this year may also continue to outperform if inflationary pressures remain elevated.
Over the longer term, sectors that possess structural growth prospects such as those driven by the trends of digitalisation and the push towards greener energy solutions are also expected to do well. The rising adoption of cloud computing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, e-commerce, electric vehicles and lower-carbon solutions is expected to drive sustainable earnings growth for companies in these segments in the years ahead. The valuations of such growth-oriented stocks have also fallen on profit-taking activities amid higher bond yields; thus providing buying opportunities for investors who have a longer-term investment horizon.
Plans And Strategies For 2022?
We will remain committed to our fundamental-based approach and long-term investment strategies which have served us well in delivering consistent returns to our unitholders over the long term. Given the volatile markets amid uncertainties surrounding the Russia-Ukraine conflict and its impact on global growth and inflation, we have adopted a portfolio comprising growth and value stocks.
We will continue to monitor developments in the global markets so as to re-deploy our funds’
cash holdings when opportunities arise.