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Witan wins back global trust losses

Multi-manager investment trust Witan has returned more in the first few months of this year than it lost in 2011.

The trust’s net asset value total return for last year fell by 10.9 per cent – 3.9 per cent lower than its global composite benchmark.

This underperformance was due to the trust’s positioning, which reflected a fairly optimistic view of global equity markets. This hit performance when the markets took a sudden turn for the worse in August and gearing exaggerated the losses during the market turbulence.

Chief executive officer Andrew Bell says the team had to consider whether its view of the world was correct. It felt markets were being over-emotional and positioned the portfolio to benefit from a recovery once things settled down. This allowed Witan to make up some of the lost returns during the last few months of last year. The dividend was increased by 10.1 per cent, the 37th consecutive annual rise, and the trust has now made 2 to 3 per cent more than it lost last year.

Bell says: “Markets traded sideways, then had a nervous breakdown. We then thought, was our previous view of the markets correct or not?

We concluded our view of the world was correct so we stuck to our guns and waited for markets to come around to our way of thinking. This has paid off . It is nice to try and get every twist and turn in the markets right but that is a vain pursuit.”

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