AIM is fast maturing into a grown-up stock market

An article in the Daily Telegraph’s popular Questor column commented on the encouraging evidence of AIM’s centre of gravity tilting away from the ‘get-the-founders-rich-quick outfits’ towards real, well-run businesses with bright prospects.

Telegraph subscribers can read the article here, alternatively, Yahoo! Finance has also kindly provided a free to read version here.

AIM’s fabulous performance in 2020 certainly suggests London’s growth market is indeed a very different proposition to the one we first started investing in for Inheritance Tax planning purposes back in 2004.

AIM ended 2020 with its market value at an all-time high of £131 billion. A record 24 AIM companies were valued at more than £1billion each at the year end and 246 AIM companies were valued at £100m or more, the majority of which were in the £100m – £250m valuation bracket.

After rising 10.1% in December, the AIM index finished 2020 up 20% for the year, an amazing achievement in the circumstances and significantly outperforming the main UK index of 100 stocks in the year, which fell 15%. Specialist research house Equity Development commented how this must be “the biggest one-year differential in AIM’s 26-year history”.

But this was not just a flash in the pan and over the 5 years to the end of December 2020, the AIM All share index has risen 60% whereas the main UK market is up only 11%. We acknowledge that this excludes dividend income, and the main UK market has yielded over 4% per annum over this period. However, as commented on by our associates Investor’s Champion in an article here, 2020 highlighted the fragility of dividends for highly geared companies on the main UK stock market, many of whom have been forced to cut or postpone dividend payments.

As individuals own 25.1% of AIM companies, against just 11.3% of FTSE 100 companies (source: “Ownership of UK shares, UK Government, January 2020”) UK private investors will have benefited very nicely from this outperformance.

It is also worth emphasising that to benefit from the Inheritance Tax planning reliefs, individuals need to own the qualifying AIM shares directly in a segregated portfolio in their own name i.e. the tax benefit cannot be gained through investing via a collective/fund structure. Fundamental Asset Management’s AIM portfolios can also be accessed through a number of adviser wrap platforms.  Our Document Library and Adviser Centre has a wealth of information on investing in AIM Inheritance Tax portfolios.

While it was a poor year for new issues/IPOs, with only 32 new entrants raising £486m, AIM saw a large number of secondary fund raises with a total of £5.27 billion raised, making 2020 the best year for secondary issues since 2010.

Not as illiquid as people think!

The average daily value of AIM shares traded also hit all-time highs at £326m, an increase of £91m per day on 2019. Trading volumes remained strong with c £83 billion of shares traded in the year as a whole compared to c£60 billion in 2019. Those are big numbers (for private investors at least!) and counter the argument that AIM shares are illiquid.

ASOS (LON:ASC) remained the largest company by market capitalisation with a year-end valuation of £4.8bn, ahead of online fashion rival Boohoo Group which was valued at £4.3bn.

Although there has been steep drop in the number of companies on AIM, from a peak of 1,694 in 2007 to only 819 at the end of 2020, the quality of companies is far higher.

You can find out more about Fundamental Asset Management’s high performing AIM IHT ISA and AIM Inheritance Tax portfolio service, which has been delivering exceptional investment returns for more than 16 years, from the link here.