BlackRock Frontiers Investment Trust NAV returned +3.7%, equal to its benchmark

BlackRock

BlackRock Frontiers Investment Trust plc (LON:BRFI) has provided its latest portfolio update.

All information is at 31 March 2022 and unaudited.

You can discover more about the BlackRock Frontiers Investment Trust at blackrock.com/uk/brfi

Performance at month end with net income reinvested.

One
 month
%
Three
months
%
One
 year
%
Three
 years
%
Five
 years
%
Since 
Launch*
%
Sterling:
Share price0.8-0.17.010.47.893.5
Net asset value5.74.120.621.222.5119.3
Benchmark (NR)**5.612.324.613.832.489.8
MSCI Frontiers Index (NR)1.8-5.314.622.226.983.1
MSCI Emerging Markets Index (NR)-0.4-4.3-7.114.426.958.9
US Dollars:
Share price-1.1-2.92.111.513.664.1
Net asset value3.71.215.122.429.285.7
Benchmark (NR)**3.79.218.915.039.461.5
MSCI Frontiers Index (NR)-0.1-7.99.423.533.654.6
MSCI Emerging Markets Index (NR)-2.3-7.0-11.415.633.734.2

Sources: BlackRock and Standard & Poor’s Micropal

* 17 December 2010.

** The Company’s benchmark changed from MSCI Frontier Markets Index to MSCI Emerging ex Selected Countries + Frontier Markets + Saudi Arabia Index (net total return, USD) effective 1/4/2018.
 

At month end
US Dollar
Net asset value – capital only:186.30c
Net asset value – cum income:188.65c
Sterling:
Net asset value – capital only:141.50p
Net asset value – cum income:143.28p
Share price:128.50p
Total assets (including income):£271.3m
Discount to cum-income NAV:10.3%
Gearing:nil
Gearing range (as a % of gross assets):0-20%
Net yield*:3.3%
Ordinary shares in issue**:189,325,748
Ongoing charges***:1.4%
Ongoing charges plus taxation and performance fee:2.4%

*The Company’s yield based on dividends announced in the last 12 months as at the date of the release of this announcement is 3.3% and includes the 2021 interim dividend of 2.75 cents per share, announced on 01 June 2021 and paid to shareholders on 25 June 2021. Also included is the 2021 final dividend of 4.25 cents per share, declared on 1 December 2021, and paid to shareholders on 11 February 2022.

** Excluding 52,497,053 ordinary shares held in treasury.

***Calculated as a percentage of average net assets and using expenses, excluding Performance fees and interest costs for the year ended 30 September 2021.

Sector
Analysis
Gross market value as a % of net assetsCountry
Analysis
Gross market value as a % of net assets
Financials34.4Saudi Arabia23.7
Industrials15.7Indonesia13.4
Consumer Discretionary15.7Vietnam9.1
Materials12.4United Arab Emirates9.0
Consumer Staples9.1Thailand7.7
Energy7.3Greece6.8
Real Estate5.6Malaysia5.6
Health Care4.3Philippines5.0
Information Technology3.5Qatar4.7
Utilities1.8Kazakhstan4.6
Communication Services1.3Egypt3.9
—–Chile2.9
111.1Hungary2.3
—–Romania2.3
Short positions-2.3Poland2.3
=====Kenya1.7
Colombia1.5
Panama1.5
Peru1.2
Pakistan0.8
Ukraine0.5
Nigeria0.3
Austria0.3
        —–
Total111.1
—–
Short positions-2.3
=====

*reflects gross market exposure from contracts for difference (CFDs).

Market Exposure
 

30.04
 2021
    %
31.05
 2021
    %
30.06
 2021
    %
31.07
 2021
    %
31.08
 2021
    %
30.09
 2021
    %
31.10
 2021
    %
30.11
 2021
    %
31.12
 2021
    %
31.01
 2022
    %
28.02
 2022
    %
31.03
 2022
    %
Long108.5105.3106.8107.1104.2108.1110.6106.3104.3108.4110.7111.1
Short 2.5 2.3 4.6 2.3 0.6 0.4 0.4 0.4 1.0 1.9 3.3 2.3
Gross111.0107.6111.4109.4104.8108.5111.0106.7105.3110.3114.0113.4
Net106.0103.0102.2104.8103.6107.7110.2105.9103.3106.5107.4108.8

Ten Largest Investments

CompanyCountry of RiskGross market value as a % of net assets
Emaar PropertiesUnited Arab Emirates4.5
Saudi National BankSaudi Arabia4.3
Bank RakyatIndonesia3.7
FPTVietnam3.5
Saudi British BankSaudi Arabia3.2
Mobile WorldVietnam3.2
United International TransportSaudi Arabia3.0
Leejam SportsSaudi Arabia3.0
CP AllThailand2.8
Indocement Tunggal PrakarsaIndonesia2.6

Commenting on the markets, Sam Vecht and Emily Fletcher, representing the   Investment Manager noted: 

The Company’s NAV returned +3.7% versus its benchmark, the MSCI Emerging ex Selected Countries + Frontier Markets + Saudi Arabia Index (“Benchmark Index”), which also returned +3.7% in March. For reference, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index ended the month down by 2.3% and the MSCI Frontier Markets Index returned -0.1% over the same period (all performance figures are on a US Dollar basis with net income reinvested).

It is worth taking note of the strong divergence in performance we are seeing between larger and smaller emerging markets. Over the past 12 months, the benchmark index has risen by 11.4% whilst the MSCI Emerging Markets index has fallen by 18.9%. Frontier Markets have benefited from an acceleration of economic growth driven by reopening and attractive market valuations, whilst Emerging Markets have suffered substantial hits from a de-rating of expensive Chinese stocks and war between Russia and Ukraine. 

The benchmark index has continued its strong performance from last month as most countries in the index finished the month exhibiting positive returns, led by Latin America: Colombia (+15%), Chile (+11%) and Peru (+11%). The Middle East was also strong with the UAE up 10% and Qatar up 7%.

The Company benefited from its exposure to South-East Asia, where a strong combination of commodity price tailwinds, current account surpluses and economic reopening is starting to reflect in asset prices. For example, both Malaysia and Indonesia posted current account surpluses for 2021 and we expect that to continue with commodity prices higher for longer. Latest inflation prints have been benign at 2.2% for Malaysia (February) and 2.6% for Indonesia (March).

In the UAE, Emaar Properties (+18%) has continued to rally as real estate in Dubai booms, with residential transactions up 40% year on year. Nitrogen fertilizer producer Fertiglobe (+30%) was another key contributor. The current high levels of European gas prices have pushed urea prices up by around 150% over the past year.  National Medical Care, a hospital operator in Saudi Arabia, also did well on the back of strong results driven by margin improvements and the start of the deployment of their five year strategy to drive growth. 

Elsewhere, Greek renewable energy company Terna (+27%) did well during the month in line with the significant rise we have seen in European power prices and a scarcity value for clean assets. 

On the other side, Kazakh super-app Kaspi had a weak month, despite strong results, driven by perceptions of contagion from the current war between Russia and Ukraine, although to date in April, we have seen significant stock recovery.  Egyptian positions were hit by the devaluation of the Egyptian pound, which fell 16% during the month. Egypt is the largest wheat importer in the world, with roughly 85% of imports coming from Russia and Ukraine. The disruption in food supply coupled with a reduction in tourism (about 15-20% of Egypt’s tourists were from Russia) has widened the country’s current account deficit. 

We made a few changes to the portfolio in March. We initiated a position in Ecopetrol given its strong dividend and free cash flow yields. We also bought into Hungarian airline Wizz Air, which looks beaten down on oil prices but should recover in the medium term and benefit from a normalisation in travel. We exited Chilean retailer Falabella on the back of disappointing results and a deteriorating consumer outlook.

Overall, we are excited by the prospects of our portfolio. In an environment of high inflation, rising rates and pressure on global Central Banks, frontier markets stack up favourably, and we would highlight the Gulf Corporation Council where current account and fiscal surpluses are on track to be the highest seen for 8 years. Valuations in fronter markets remain attractive relative to their own history and also relative to more developed markets. We believe our opportunity set is a compelling universe to generate alpha.

Sources:

1BlackRock as at 31 March 2022

2MSCI as at 31 March 2022

You can discover more about the BlackRock Frontiers Investment Trust at blackrock.com/uk/brfi

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