During January, the Columbus Fund saw a decline of -3.33%, which lagged the -0.8% decrease in the STOXX 600. This fall was driven by some profit taking over the month in stocks that have performed well over the last year. Over the past six months the Fund has risen by +16.08%, and by +63.06% since the market’s low on March 18th. For the full year 2020 Columbus achieved a positive return of +7.04% which compares favourably to the official benchmark for the fund, the STOXX 600 which achieved a loss of -4.04% for the year.
Since inception in June 2008, Columbus’ return has been 127.06%, comfortably exceeding the broad European equity index. It remains notable that the higher returns do not come with higher risk as the volatility of the portfolio over the last twelve months stands at 26.5% vs. 30.0% for the STOXX600.
As the roll-out of the Covid vaccines began in earnest across much of Europe, equity investors started to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel, and the prospect of a return to economic growth later in the year. This led to a rotation within markets away from some of the higher quality, more stable growth companies towards the more cyclical businesses which had underperformed over much of the last few years. This rotation was supported by rising commodity prices, and subsequent concerns about a possible return of inflation. While more recent news of vaccine delays and persistently high Covid statistics has tempered this early enthusiasm somewhat, investors continue to look through to the summer with optimism.
The Columbus portfolio was partially impacted by this shift in style preference as we entered the new year, with two of our very long term winners, Interpump (Italian specialist engineering) and Royal Unibrew (Danish brewery) experiencing some profit taking as investors shifted into more cyclical holdings. However, the most significant negative impact came from Neoen, the French listed renewables energy producer which had been a star performer on the fund in 2020, having risen as much as 139% from the market low point in March. We remain positive on these companies and see them as quality long term winners. The biggest contributions over the month came from our two Austrian listed holdings, S&T (technology consultancy), which reiterated their guidance for 2021 of at least € 1400 m sales and EBITDA € 140 m, and AMS AG (semiconductors). Both staged solid recoveries after short-term weakness in late 2020.
We thank you for your trust and wish the best to you and your families during these uncertain times.
Since June 14, 2018 both domestic and foreign investors have been able to access the Columbus strategy via the master-feeder structure between the Columbus 75 Sicav in Spain (feeder) and the Luxembourg registered Pareturn GVC Gaesco Columbus European Midcap Equity Fund (master). The Luxembourg vehicle offers both institutional and retail share classes.