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Storms continue to batter global markets

Global Markets Continue to Struggle

The outlook for global economies continues to look challenging, with high inflation and rising interest rates potentially tipping many countries into recession.

As a result, global stock markets, led as usual by the US, have been suffering for quite a while. Unfortunately AIM has not been immune to this, with the AIM index now down over 33% year to date.

The bear market since the summer of 2021 is one of the longest we have seen in our 30+ years in investment management. Even the financial crisis of 2008 did not last as long as this and we can only hope that we are somewhere near turning the corner.

Certainly, the recent updates from our core portfolio holdings have been largely positive, despite the challenges they face, although this has not been reflected in their share prices!

What do we do we do at the moment? 

As we have previously mentioned, with the market not reflecting the general positive performance of many of the companies in our portfolios, the simple answer is, we do very little, other than drill down into the many results and updates being reported by companies and keep a very close eye out for bargains.

During previous periods of excessive volatility we recommend clients ignore the manic movements of share prices and unless there is a need to sell, the best cause of action is to continue wait for things to turn around, knowing we are well invested when the turnaround occurs.

It is worth remembering that in February 2020, the AIM market fell 36% in a month but it finished the year up 20%. A similar recovery took place after the Financial Crisis of 2007/8. We expect something similar in the near future, with the AIM of today a far higher quality market than it was in 2008.

During periods like this, we consider long-term holders of small cap shares should view the stock market as effectively closed, unless they are looking to buy a potential bargain.

Potential light at the end of the long tunnel?

Despite all of the negative news, today the Office for National Statistics announced that rather than contract as their previous reading suggested, the UK economy grew in the second quarter of this year by 0.2%. Whether this is the start of things beginning to improve remains to be seen.

Upcoming webinar

The next Fundamental webinar on Wednesday 12th October at 3 pm is called AIM: cheap for good reason or bargains to be snapped up? It will be on looking back at the last quarter and reviewing the outlook ahead; including a focus on how have companies really been performing vs their stock price? To register for the webinar and to be able to view it after the event, click here.

To find out more about the benefits of investing in AIM, or if you wish to discuss the current situation, please speak to our Business Development Manager Jonathan Bramall via email [email protected]  or phone 01923 713 894.


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Inflation proofed returns from AIM

Since arriving on AIM in 2011 at 60p per share (currently 930p) and a market capitalisation of only £50m (currently £1.25 billion), Glasgow headquartered Smart Metering Systems (‘SMS’) has evolved into a fully integrated energy infrastructure company.

SMS is a long-term holding in Fundamental Asset Management’s AIM IHT portfolios.

The global energy market has changed rapidly over the last few months and the requirement for a low carbon, flexible and secure energy system has never been greater or more acute.  The core focus of SMS is to facilitate a lower cost, lower carbon energy future.

At the time of its arrival on AIM, SMS was primarily a provider of gas infrastructure connection services and gas meter asset management services. It had also developed advanced smart metering technology solutions. Fast forward to the present time and the enlarged group now provides total energy solutions for its customers, helping businesses and consumers use energy for the better, with the aim of achieving a greener and more sustainable energy system.

In addition to their core meter asset management business, SMS now independently develops, owns and operates Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) that serve a greener, resilient, and more flexible grid and independent Electric Vehicle (‘EV’) charging solutions.

Inflation proofed returns

A positive trading update for its first half to 30 June commented how the installation of smart meters continued to pick-up with 230,000 installed during the first half of 2022, and the average monthly installation rate rising to 40,000 meters. As a result, the Group’s total smart meter portfolio increased to 1.9 million meters, with the order pipeline c.2.42 million meters.

The Group’s growing portfolio of smart meters supports plenty of reliable, inflation proofed, Index Linked Annualised Recurring Revenue (‘ILARR’), to which an annual RPI adjustment of +4.3% was applied on 1 April 2022.

The UK smart meter rollout continues to present a significant opportunity to grow their ILARR, with Ofgem requiring energy suppliers to exchange at least 85% of all meters to smart by the end of 2025. Ofgem has also proposed mandatory settlement of energy on a half-hourly basis, which would significantly increase the market size for these services from c.300,000 electricity meters to over 26 million meters by 2026.

SMS’ first grid-scale battery site (Burwell, 50MW) commenced trading at the end of January 2022 and the site’s current performance is well ahead of expectations.

New developments

The Group’s new Solopower solution, which was launched in 2021, aims to radically reduce carbon emissions within the UK’s social housing stock using solar generation and battery storage. Pilot projects are being progressed in over 1,000 homes across the UK, as well as early-stage projects in the Republic of Ireland.

Sustainability

The SMS website highlights how their investment case is rooted in sustainability, with its Sustainability Report providing detailed disclosure on the practical steps being taken to progress Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) responsibilities within their business strategy, culture, and everyday operations.

Their ‘net-zero by 2030’ target will see SMS drastically reduce their organisational carbon emissions to achieve a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere.

Green Economy Mark

SMS carries the London Stock Exchange’s Green Economy Mark. This recognises London-listed companies and funds that derive more than 50% of their revenues from products and services that are contributing the environmental objectives such as climate change mitigation and adaptation, waste and pollution reduction, and the circular economy.

 

Inheritance Tax receipts hit another record

HMRC’s latest figures show that Inheritance Tax (IHT) receipts for April 2022 to July 2022 were £2.4 billion, that’s £0.3 billion higher than in the same period a year earlier.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (‘OBR’) forecasts that as many as 6.5 per cent of estates could be liable for Inheritance Tax by 2026 – 75 per cent more than the 3.7 per cent that the figures show for the latest financial year.

With the AIM market down substantially from 2021 highs, now could be a great time to consider investing in qualifying AIM shares as part of a sustainable Inheritance Tax plan.

To find out more about the benefits of investing in AIM for Inheritance Tax planning purposes, where sustainability is also a key consideration, please speak to our Business Development Manager Jonathan Bramall via email [email protected]  or phone 01923 713 894.

This video presentation here provides a brief introduction to the Fundamental AIM IHT portfolio service, while our webinar here reviews the second quarter of the year and discusses our ESG and PRI developments.

 

Fundamental Asset Management
www.fundamentalasset.com