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BlackRock Grtr Eur (BRGE)

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Wednesday 19 April, 2017

BlackRock Grtr Eur

Portfolio Update

All information is at 31 MARCH 2017 and unaudited.
Performance at month end with net income reinvested
One Three One Three Launch
Month Months Year Years (20 Sep 04)
Net asset value (undiluted) 3.1% 5.1% 20.0% 27.4% 290.5%
Net asset value* (diluted) 3.1% 5.1% 21.1% 29.6% 290.9%
Share price 4.4% 6.3% 22.6% 26.2% 277.4%
FTSE World Europe ex UK 4.6% 7.5% 27.9% 31.7% 215.0%
* Diluted for treasury shares and subscription shares.
Sources: BlackRock and Datastream
At month end
Net asset value (capital only): 308.10p
Net asset value (including income): 309.74p
Net asset value (capital only)1: 308.10p
Net asset value (including income)1: 309.74p
Share price: 297.00p
Discount to NAV (including income): 4.1%
Discount to NAV (including income)1: 4.1%
Net gearing: 2.2%
Net yield2: 1.8%
Total assets (including income): £300.5m
Ordinary shares in issue3: 95,295,953
Ongoing charges4: 1.07%
1  Diluted for treasury shares.
2  Based on a final dividend of 3.65p per share and an interim dividend of 1.65p per share for the year ended 31 August 2016.
3  Excluding 15,032,985 shares held in treasury.
4  Calculated as a percentage of average net assets and using expenses, excluding interest costs, after relief for taxation, for the year ended 31 August 2016.
Sector Analysis Total Assets  Country Analysis Total Assets 
(%)  (%) 
Industrials 28.5  France 19.3 
Financials 20.3  Netherlands 15.9 
Consumer Goods 15.8  Germany 11.6 
Health Care 8.6  Denmark 10.8 
Consumer Services 8.6  Switzerland 8.1 
Technology 7.4  Belgium 5.9 
Basic Materials 7.3  Sweden 5.2 
Telecommunications 2.6  Ireland 5.0 
Oil & Gas 1.3  Finland 4.5 
Net current liabilities (0.4) Russia 4.1 
-----  Luxembourg 2.5 
100.0  Ukraine 1.8 
=====  Spain 1.6 
Italy 1.6 
Poland 1.6 
Turkey 0.9 
Net current liabilities (0.4)
Ten Largest Equity Investments
% of
Company Country Total Assets
AXA France 3.5
RELX Netherlands 3.4
ASML Netherlands 3.3
Bayer Germany 3.3
Anheuser-Busch InBev Belgium 3.1
Vinci France 3.0
Schneider Electric France 2.9
Wartsila Finland 2.6
KPN Netherlands 2.6
DSV Denmark 2.6
Commenting on the markets, Vincent Devlin, representing the Investment Manager noted:
During the month, the Company’s NAV rose by 3.1% and the share price gained by 4.4%. For reference, the FTSE World Europe ex UK Index was up 4.6% during the period.
With the French election within sight, politics again took centre stage. The Dutch election on 15 March was seen as a gauge of populist sentiment on the continent, hence the election victory of pro-European mainstream was a relief for the market and political leaders. Furthermore, the UK formally triggered Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon at the end of the month, which started the Brexit process. Political noise aside, Europe continues to see strong economic data with the region’s composite Purchasing Manager’s Index hitting a six-year high in March.
Investors continued to focus on likely policy development at the European Central Bank (ECB), where the messaging from different council members has been mixed. However, while expectations of potentially higher interest rates drove bond yields and bank stocks higher, we do not expect a dramatic policy shift in the immediate future.
From a sector perspective, losses were experienced due to the lower allocation to financials. Banks proved to be one of the top performing industries over the month as central bank language encouraged inflation and interest rate expectations higher. Given this change in tone from the ECB in particular, we decided to increase the Company’s weighting towards banks. However, we remain cautious on pressures facing the sector and note that we still remain in a low nominal rate environment. Therefore, we are positioned towards the higher quality banks within Europe, such as Danske Bank. Positively, the lower allocation to health care contributed to performance over the month.
In stock specifics, the largest detractor was a holding in German listed Steinhoff International. The stock has shown a high level of sensitivity towards the South African Rand, which saw its value relative to the Euro fall significantly over the month given perceived political instability leading to the dismissal of South Africa’s finance minister.
The Company also realised underperformance from an off-benchmark holding in Swedish stockbroker Avanza Bank. The share price was negatively afflicted over the month as Nordea, the largest Swedish bank, announced that it would be reducing commission rates. The main motivation in this was to stem outflows it has experienced, as Avanza has rapidly gained market share. Whilst this is a change in market dynamics, we believe the share price move is overdone. We continue to believe Avanza, which remains the lowest cost operator in the region, will achieve a higher growth rate than other Swedish players as investors are attracted to not only its competitive pricing, but superior functionality, technology and product offering.
A position in Thyssenkrupp also detracted from returns, unwinding some of their recent strong performance. Largely, this was due to a sentiment shift on those stocks deemed to be exposed to Trump’s pro-growth agenda, following his failure to pass policy through Congress. However, we believe Thyssenkrupp still has potential upside as forward lead indicators for growth and pricing power within the steel industry remain healthy.
Positively, a position in French construction company Vinci performed well, with incremental news flow on the Grand Paris construction plans likely to support the stock further. A position in beverage company Rémy Cointreau also contributed positively to performance as data in China supported sales trends, particularly in their most profitable XO (Extra Old) category.
The conditions for European equities are much brighter for 2017. We see a pick-up in global economic momentum and the market poised to focus on fundamental drivers after a highly thematic 2016. European equity fundamentals are improving as evidenced by the robust Q4 reporting season. The European market is now delivering a more supportive earnings revision trend. In addition, we are seeing margins beginning to improve on the back of a strong macro backdrop, improvement in pricing power and global capex spending recovery in select industries. Growth is broad based and the rebound in global trade and exports should provide a boost to Eurozone GDP growth. We remain aware of the risks apparent within Europe, particularly those of a political nature, but also note that some of the upcoming elections on the continent could turn out as positive catalysts for change – for example in France, where some candidates have a clear reform agenda which would be positive for business confidence and activity. We anticipate that investors will reassess the risk / reward profile and increase weightings to the asset class once political risk has faded.
19 April 2017
Latest information is available by typing on the internet, "BLRKINDEX" on Reuters, "BLRK" on Bloomberg or "8800" on Topic 3 (ICV terminal).  Neither the contents of the Manager’s website nor the contents of any website accessible from hyperlinks on the Manager’s website (or any other website) is incorporated into, or forms part of, this announcement.

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