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Introducing The Fundamentals Series

Our last Blog here covered a stock market sell-off and what we are doing. This week we are doing things a bit differently.

Recently, we have received requests to go over some topics from the beginning to assist people who are trying understand what we do at Fundamental Asset Management as well as what AIM is, what opportunities it provides and how it can be used to help reduce Inheritance Tax (IHT).

Over the coming weeks, we will be going back-to-basics focusing on the fundamentals (pun intended!) of the AIM IHT Portfolio Service and indeed Fundamental Asset Management itself. We will be looking at how AIM could provide returns in the medium to long-term that put other investments in the shade as well as how Business Relief can be used for estate planning as well as some frequently asked questions around costs and a number of practical processes.

This week, The Fundamentals brings you a video we have put together; Fundamental Asset Management – An Introduction.

Topics covered include:

  • Who Are We?
  • What is AIM?
  • AIM in 2021.
  • AIM for outperformance.
  • Business Relief & AIM – How it works.
  • AIM IHT Investment Process – Investable Universe.
  • AIM Investment Process – Core/ Satellite portfolio approach.
  • AIM IHT Investment process – the issues!
  • Benefits of a Portfolio – Not a Fund.
  • AIM in 2022 – Difficult Start to the year.
  • 2022 Opportunities so far.

In this video presentation, Chris Boxall, co-founder of AIM specialist investment manager Fundamental Asset Management, provides an introduction to the Fundamental AIM IHT portfolio service. The presentation covers Fundamental’s investment process and issues to be aware when investing in AIM for Inheritance Tax planning purposes. Chris also offers his thoughts on the outlook for AIM in 2022.

We hope you find it useful. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our Business Development Manager Jonathan Bramall via email [email protected] or phone 01923 713 894

Fundamental Asset Management
www.fundamentalasset.com


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Introduction to the Fundamental AIM IHT Portfolio Service

In this video presentation, Chris Boxall, co-founder of AIM specialist investment manager Fundamental Asset Management, provides an introduction to the Fundamental AIM IHT portfolio service. The presentation covers Fundamental’s investment process and issues to be aware when investing in AIM for Inheritance Tax planning purposes. Chris also offers his thoughts on the outlook for AIM in 2022.


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Podcast: buying opportunities on AIM

In this podcast interview with Jeremy Naylor of IGTV, Chris Boxall, co-founder of AIM specialist investment manager Fundamental Asset Management, discusses potential buying opportunities on AIM following recent falls.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking the image above.

Companies discussed include Argentex (AGFX), dotDigital (DOTD), CVS Group (CVSG), EMIS (EMIS), and Cambridge Cognition (COG)

The Fundamental AIM IHT Portfolio is a discretionary investment management service where clients can obtain 100% mitigation from Inheritance Tax, benefit from the capital growth afforded by the AIM market and retain control of their assets.

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 18 years, from the link here.


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Why we are wary of investing in IPOs on AIM

In this video interview with Jeremy Naylor of IGTV, Chris Boxall, co-founder of AIM specialist investment manager Fundamental Asset Management, discusses the performance of IPOs on AIM and why Fundamental is wary of investing in these for their AIM IHT portfolios.

2021 was the first year since 2014 that Initial public Offerings (‘IPOs’) on London’s AIM market exceeded cancellations, but even before recent stock market falls it has proved hard for IPO investors to make money investing in AIM’s new arrivals as Chris considers in this interview.

You can watch the video by clicking the image above.

The Fundamental AIM IHT Portfolio is a discretionary investment management service where clients can obtain 100% mitigation from Inheritance Tax, benefit from the capital growth afforded by the AIM market and retain control of their assets.

 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 18 years, from the link here.


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AIM market sell-off – what we are doing

The week is closing with another big stock market sell-off and, as is once again the case, the shares of smaller companies, particularly those on AIM, are having a tougher time than the blue chips.

Russia’s diabolical invasion of Ukraine has further destabilised a fragile stock market, which was already straining under inflationary and interest rate fears; ironically, in the short term, the risk of the latter has now diminished.

Our previous Blog here shows the stock market reaction to major geopolitical events going back to the Pearl Harbor Attack of 1941.

Mr Market, the manic depressive!

As experienced investors in AIM for Inheritance Tax planning purposes for nearly 20 years, we have unfortunately seen this all before, most recently at the time of the first pandemic lockdown in February 2020 when stock markets fell precipitously, with the AIM market falling 36% in a month. Following this tumultuous and very rapid fall it proceeded to recover strongly, finishing the year up 20% and eclipsing the main UK stock market which remained lower. A similar recovery took place after the financial crisis with the AIM index more than doubling off lows.

Moving forward to the current time, AIM IHT portfolios, in line with the AIM index, are down c20% year-to-date and 25% down from the highs hit at the beginning of September 2021, while the UK main market is down approximately 9.5%.

Selling on AIM has been indiscriminate this week, with even mild disappointment severely punished, and large share price declines for some stocks, as high as 60% in a day in some cases. It should be emphasised that there are rarely stock specific reasons for such dramatic falls, and this is simply the feature of a less liquid market, with plenty of irrational sellers and very few buyers. With a few exceptions, such dramatic share price declines rarely reflect the financial strength or long-term prospects of the companies in question, they are simply a feature of ‘Mr Market’s’ irrational behaviour.

So, what do we do at times like these?

The simple answer is, very little, other than keep an eye out for bargains.

There is certainly no point manically trading, seeking out potential safe havens as they don’t exist, with all small caps being dragged lower, notwithstanding any apparent defensive characteristics. The bid/offer spread also widens and it’s a lot harder to sell at the desired price.

Panic selling, on Mr Market’s terms rather than your own, is always the wrong approach. This incurs unnecessary trading costs and one risks being out of the market when things turn around, as they surely will at some point.

During periods of excessive volatility we recommend clients ignore the manic movements of share prices as they are largely irrelevant, that is unless you need to sell, which we hope is not the case. Think of smaller companies on the stock market as one would an unquoted private equity investment, which does not have the distraction of daily pricing.

Furthermore, as investors in AIM for Inheritance Tax planning purposes, we don’t have the luxury (or disadvantage) of being able to sit in cash and are obliged to remain fully invested, so there is nowhere to hide, even if we wanted to. The advantage of this is that when things do turn around, which they will, portfolios are well placed to benefit, being already invested.

What about valuations?

Companies which joined in AIM in 2021, often with unwarranted valuations, have seen their shares hit particularly hard, with little loyalty being shown by new shareholders. The valuations of many of these were unjustified, often based on unusual market conditions over the pandemic which flattered their growth prospects. Many institutions were naïve to back these at such high valuations and they are now paying the price. The artificial valuations assigned to IPOs, which are priced by brokers and the companies themselves, is a reason why we are reluctant investors at IPO and like to see companies deliver on public markets first.

The valuations of some better-established AIM companies have looked stretched for a while and if growth prospects are determined to be less stellar than originally anticipated (something experienced with one of our stocks this week) share price falls are justified, however, not to the extent that we have seen, as Mr Market’s pessimism becomes excessive.

Conversely, the valuations of some excellent highly profitable companies, with attractive growth prospects, have also been pulled down to extremely attractive levels, offering compelling buying opportunities.

To all-intents and purposes, at times like these, we consider that long-term holders of small cap shares should notionally consider the stock market to be closed, that is unless you are a buyer. With the war only in its first week, the volatility is likely to continue for a while longer.

 

Fundamental Asset Management
www.fundamentalasset.com


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Russia invades Ukraine and stocks tumble – what does it mean for the portfolios?

Attributed to Nathan Mayer Rothschild during the Napoleonic wars, it’s pertinent to consider the above statement at the current time as Russia invades Ukraine and stock markets plunge – at the time of writing the UK stock market is down 3%.

But how have wars really affected stock markets?

Research from LPL Financial indicates that stocks have largely shrugged off past geopolitical conflicts. “As serious as this escalation is, previous experiences have indicated it may be unlikely to have a material impact on U.S. economic fundamentals or corporate profits,” said LPL Financial Chief Investment Strategist John Lynch.

The table below, courtesy of LPL Financial, summarises the stock market reaction to major geopolitical events going back to the Pearl Harbor Attack of 1941.

Iraq’s Invasion of Kuwait in 1990 offers an interesting guide and resulted in a 16.9% total drawdown in the S&P 500 Index over the course of 71 days; it subsequently took 189 days to recover.

However, history tells us that it’s the periods of uncertainty, such as those experienced over recent weeks, when stocks suffer the most.

In 2015, researchers at the Swiss Finance Institute looked at U.S. military conflicts after World War II and found that in cases when there is a pre-war phase, an increase in the war likelihood tends to decrease stock prices, but the ultimate outbreak of a war increases them. However, in cases when a war starts as a surprise, the outbreak of a war decreases stock prices. They called this phenomenon “the war puzzle” and said there is no clear explanation why stocks increase significantly once war breaks out after a prelude.

Similarly, Mark Armbruster, the president of Armbruster Capital Management, studied the period from 1926 through July 2013 and found that stock market volatility was actually lower during periods of war. “Intuitively, one would expect the uncertainty of the geopolitical environment to spill over into the stock market. However, that has not been the case, except during the Gulf War when volatility was roughly in line with the historical average,” he said.

“Part of the reason for the calm may lie in the changing structure of global oil markets and how the U.S. economy has become less vulnerable to energy price swings,” said JPMorgan Funds chief global strategist David Kelly in a note. “Part of the reason may be purely psychological. Today’s investors have seen the stock market recover from both 9/11 and the Great Financial Crisis, arguably the greatest geopolitical and economic shocks of our time. This makes it easier for investors to shrug off other events.”

A conflict with Russia can also cause volatile oil markets, as Russia is a key producer of crude oil and natural gas, with pipelines feeding many parts of Europe. If Russia were to close the taps, or have its oil infrastructure damaged, it could lead to higher energy prices – the oil price has now risen above $100 a barrel for first time since 2014. Interruptions to the ports around the Black and Baltic Seas could also create even bigger shipping headaches and lead to food inflation as grains and other staples remain stuck at sea.

What does this mean for your portfolio?

The uncertainty of recent weeks has already brought a sharp sell-off in share prices, even before today’s events. The S&P500 index, which all other markets generally follow, is already 12% down on the highs hit at the beginning of the year. The main UK stock market has fared somewhat better in the short term and is only 5% lower, although that should be considered in the context of it not going anywhere over the past 5 years, while the S&P500 has climbed 79%, even after recent falls.

As we would expect, smaller companies and notably growth companies on AIM, have fared worst of all, with the AIM Index down 23% from the highs hit at the beginning of September 2021 and 18% in the quarter to date, with the latter broadly in-line with our AIM portfolios.

Much of this fall is down to inflationary fears and the prospect of a rise in interest rates, with so-called ‘growth stocks’, impacted more than old-economy stocks and news of the invasion impacting things further.  As we have commented previously, valuations of some of the earlier-stage and more speculative companies of AIM have also looked somewhat overheated for a while and a pull-back was long overdue.

In the short-term, this has little or nothing to do with companies results or indeed their prospects, it’s simply a matter of general sentiment, which sees small sellers of less liquid smaller companies materially impact share prices, in the absence of buyers.

At times like this the best course of action, which we have followed steadfastly since our founding in 2004, is to sit patiently and wait for the opportunities to arise, as they surely will and, in some cases, already have.

We remain comfortable with our portfolio companies, which remain good businesses (whatever the stock market may currently imply) and set to deliver strong returns to shareholders over the coming years.

While the plunging stock market might be a concern, there are clearly far more meaningful consequences of war and our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine at this terrible time.

Fundamental Asset Management

www.fundamentalasset.com

 

 


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Volatility brings Opportunity to AIM IHT planning investors

Equities in general continue to be weak and volatile as investors weighed mostly positive US earnings reports against the threat of rising interest rates.

Last week, the BoE’s monetary policy committee voted to increase the base interest rate by 25 basis points to 0.5%. This marked the first back-to-back rate hike since 2004 and came after data revealed UK inflation surged to a 30-year high in December amid rising energy costs and ongoing supply chain issues. The BoE also raised its inflation forecast to an April peak of 7.25%, which would be the highest since 1991.

What does this mean for AIM?

Global stock markets are led by the US, with the volatility experienced in larger growth companies felt to an even greater extent by smaller ones. Consequently, this has brought heightened volatility to AIM, London’s growth market, notwithstanding news and results, with the AIM index down around 11% for the year to date.

At the end of January 2022 there were 845 companies on AIM, with the total market value £134 billion. 

AIM is a market with many growth focussed and successful businesses at the higher end but, given its smaller company start-up nature, it is also a market with companies yet to come into their own and even others which are yet to make a profit. In 2021 AIM welcomed 70 newcomers coming from a broad range of sectors with market capitalisations extending up to £1 billion.

AIM is a stock pickers market which is clear from the consistently strong performance made by AIM portfolio managers in the space.

Over the 5 years to end December 2021 the AIM index had risen 41% while the main UK stock market was only 7.5% higher. This suggests that UK investors had a better chance of outperforming by focusing on companies on AIM, as opposed to the UK main market, and also ignores the added potential benefit from Inheritance Tax savings. It will be interesting to see how the next 5 years work out.

At the end of 2021 30 AIM companies were valued at more than £1 billion each.

Over recent weeks, results and updates from AIM companies within our AIM Inheritance Tax planning universe have, with a few rare exceptions, been overwhelmingly positive, although share price declines would suggest otherwise.

You can find out more about the benefits of investing in AIM for IHT planning purposes in our free report available from the link here.

Our AIM IHT portfolio companies are well-established, highly profitable and cash generative and have excellent growth prospects – our latest fact sheets, available from our Document Library here, provide examples of some of these.

While inflationary fears and interest rate rises are upper most in some commentator’s minds, our AIM portfolio stocks are well-placed to maintain their growth, whatever the economic climate, having already proven themselves through challenging economic conditions over the last couple of decades.

At times like these there is nowhere to hide and our investing policy, followed consistently since our inception in 2004, is to ‘wait for the storm to blow over’.

If you want to hear more about AIM and its Inheritance Tax planning benefits, please watch our recent webinar here where we consider what 2022 might have in store for AIM and whether the compelling tax reliefs might be at risk.

You can access the webinar from our Educational Webinars page here or by going to the Fundamental Asset Management Brighttalk channel here. You will need to register on the Brighttalk platform, but registration is free.

Opportunity

As is so often the case during periods of irrational stock market selling, good companies are thrown out with the bad. So, for those with excess cash on the sidelines, the current AIM sell-off could present a good opportunity to buy into some excellent AIM companies at far more modest valuations.

It is worth remembering that from the middle of February to the middle of March 2020, during the early stages of the pandemic, AIM fell 36%, only to finish the year as a whole 20% up on where it had started, eclipsing the UK main stock market which remained 12% down over the course of the year – AIM companies offer plenty of volatility but also plenty of opportunity, as 2020 illustrated!

If you would like to talk to our portfolio managers about their curent thoughts on AIM, please contact Jonathan Bramall on 01923 713894 or email [email protected]

Our other popular educational webinars include:

All you need to know about investing in AIM for Inheritance Tax (Aug 2020)

And

The Truth about Risk in AIM (Sept 2020)

Fundamental Asset Management
www.fundamentalasset.com


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AIM: Outlook for 2022

In this year-end video interview with Jeremy Naylor of IGTV, Chris Boxall, co-founder of AIM specialist investment manager Fundamental Asset Management, discusses the performance of London’s AIM market in 2021 and considers themes, sectors and stocks to keep an eye on in 2022.

Money raised on AIM to the end of November was, at £7.9 billion, already the highest for 14 years and December has brought several IPOs as well as more secondary fund raisings from existing AIM companies.

The value of shares traded on AIM to the end of November has also surged to £92 billion in the year to date, an all-time high for a year which hasn’t even finished, and nearly £10 billion more than 2020, averaging just over £399 million a day – who said AIM shares were illiquid!

Watch the video by clicking the image above.

WEBINAR

You can also join co-founders Chris Boxall and Stephen Drabwell on Wednesday 4th May 2022 at 3pm as they answer your questions on using AIM for Inheritance Tax Planning.

Sign up for the webinar here.
The Fundamental AIM IHT Portfolio is a discretionary investment management service where clients can obtain 100% mitigation from Inheritance Tax, benefit from the capital growth afforded by the AIM market and retain control of their assets.

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 17 years, from the link here.


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Fundamental Asset Management in The Telegraph

2021 is proving to be the first year since 2014 that Initial public Offerings (‘IPOs’) on London’s AIM market have exceeded cancellations, although our research, which was picked up by The Telegraph’s Questor column, indicates that it’s proved hard for IPO investors to make money investing in AIM’s new arrivals.

You can download the Telegraph article from the link here Fundamental in The Telegraph Dec 21 or, if you have a subscription, read the article online here.

By the end of November AIM had attracted a total 75 new issues in 2021, while over the same period only 51 companies cancelled their admission. That’s a welcome change for AIM, where, since 2014, delistings have significantly exceeded new issues. This has seen the number of companies on AIM decline from 1,104 at the end of December 2014 to 842 at the end of November 2021.

While there has been a material decline in the number of companies on AIM over the past decade, the quality of companies has improved considerably, particularly over recent years, which has driven a strong performance from AIM over this period, significantly outperforming the main UK stock market.

The average value of companies on AIM at the end of November was £172 million which compares to an average value of only £65 million at the end of 2014. 28 AIM companies were valued at more than £1 billion each, with Hutchmed China the largest at £4.4 billion.

Excluding transfers from the main London market and reverse takeovers, our research suggests there were 60 true IPOs. One of the largest of these was the aptly named Big Technologies (AIM:BIG), which listed in July but saw its shares soar in quick time, lifting its market capitalisation to just over £1 billion by the middle of September. While the shares have fallen back since, they are still up 40% since IPO, with the market capitalisation £807m. Big Technologies public markets experience to date is a lot better than many others.

The shares of only 30 of the new arrivals remain above their IPO price, although there have been some very big winners to encourage IPO investors and our research reveals there is distinct profile to the star performers.

The best performing IPO on AIM in the year to date is 4basebio UK Societas (AIM: 4BB), a specialist life sciences group operating in the field of gene therapies and DNA vaccines. 4basebio joined AIM in February via an introduction (where no new money was raised on IPO), at a share price of 118 pence and market capitalisation of only £14.5m. It hopes to become a market leader in the manufacture and supply of high purity, synthetic DNA for research, therapeutic and pharmacological use. The shares are currently up 408% since IPO, lifting its market value to £74m.

The next best performer in the year was also a new arrival in February. Cornish Metals Inc (AIM:CUSN), is a mineral exploration and development company with projects in Cornwall which had previously been listed on the TSX Venture Exchange in Canada. Its dual listing on AIM raised £8.2m of new money at 7 pence per share which is being used to conduct a drill programme at its United Downs copper-tin project in Cornwall. The project lies within a densely mined district which was the richest copper producing region in Cornwall (and the world) in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and at that time referred to as “the richest square mile on earth” – how times have changed! Shares in Cornish Metals are up over 240% since IPO.

Other top performers in the year to date are Bens Creek Group (AIM:BEN), which operates metallurgical coal mines in West Virginia and whose shares are up 220% since October and Belluscura (AIM:BELL), a medical device developer focused on lightweight and portable oxygen enrichment technology, whose shares have climbed 160%.

It’s noticeable that all the top performers are early-stage companies which are not yet revenue generating and come from either the resources or life sciences sectors.

We are generally reluctant investors at IPO and like to see small companies deliver on public markets before investing. Many companies list after having enjoyed a strong period of growth prior to listing which has often proved tough to sustain. We are also very wary of big insider selling at IPO, notably by founders, which we have seen on several occasion in 2021.

Victorian Plumbing Group (AIM:VIC), the online retailer of over 24,000 bathroom products joined AIM in June in a blaze of glory and a market capitalisation of a whopping £850m. Only £11.8m was raised by the company itself on IPO, with c£286m received by selling shareholders, principally founder and CEO Mark Radcliffe (£212m) and his brother Neil (£42m), who is Product Director. While Mark Radcliffe remains the largest shareholder with a 45% stake, that was a material sell down and the shares currently sit 60% below the IPO price.

At the time of writing, 6 more companies have joined AIM in December, with the shares of 3 currently above the IPO price.

For more information:
Jonathan Bramall
[email protected]
01923 713 894

 


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AIM: opportunities arise as liquidity and M&A surge

The AIM market has seen liquidity soar in the last year by almost 50%. Furthermore, the value of M&A deals have jumped over 150% to £8.4 billion between 2020 and 2021.

But what’s behind the rise in activity on the AIM market?

IGTV’s Jeremy Naylor discusses this with Chris Boxall from Fundamental Asset Management in their latest podcast.

Watch by clicking the image above.

The Fundamental AIM IHT Portfolio is a discretionary investment management service where clients can obtain 100% mitigation from Inheritance Tax, benefit from the capital growth afforded by the AIM market and retain control of their assets.

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 17 years, from the link here.