UK’s two favourite ISA funds are thrashing market again – ‘hold tight’

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Fundsmith Equity, run by star manager Terry Smith, and Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, whose manager James Anderson has just retired, have suffered a dismal 12 months. Furious ISA investors have pulled billions of pounds from their funds but did they jump ship too soon?

Investment funds like these two hold a spread of global stocks and shares, to give investors broad exposure to the growth of different global companies and economies.

The funds’ managers, Smith and Anderson, made small fortunes for investors in the years after the financial crisis, as they took advantage of the booming US stock market and in particular, the technology sector.

Any UK adult with money to spare can invest in them free of capital gains tax and income tax, inside their annual £20,000 Stocks and Shares Isa allowance.

Money poured into these funds but the last year has been tough, as both have crashed amid growing economic uncertainty.

Fundsmith Equity has fallen 9.4 percent, measured over 12 months, which would have reduced a £10,000 stake to just £9,060.

That’s a loss of almost £1,000.

Scottish Mortgage has done far worse than that, falling an incredible 39.20 per cent. That would have reduced a £10,000 stake to just £6,080, a loss of £3,920.

While loads of other investment funds will have also suffered, these two former favourites have fallen further than most.

For example, Fundsmith Equity’s benchmark index, IA Global, has fallen just four percent, while the Scottish Mortgage benchmark fell 16.40 percent.

In response, investors have pulled more than £1billion from Fundsmith Equity in just three months.

Scottish Mortgage, a type of investment fund that trades as a stock, is usually so popular that it is valued at a premium to the underlying investments it holds.

Now it was available at a huge discount of 12.4 percent to its net asset value. That’s down from a premium of 8.4 percent at one point.

Laith Khalaf, head of investment analysis at AJ Bell, said: “Both have suffered a short, sharp fall from grace but do not give up on them yet.”

The two funds are starting to show signs of a recovery. Just as they fell faster than the market in the downtown, now they are rising faster as share prices stabilise.

Fundsmith Equity has climbed by 7.4 percent in the last six months, against 5.1 percent growth on its benchmark.

Scottish Mortgage has taken longer to show signs of life, but it is now up 4.9 percent, against 2.6 percent on its benchmark.

Dzmitry Lipski, head of funds research at Interactive Investor, said you should never judge investment performance over such a short period, but these figures are encouraging. “Fundsmith Equity and Scottish Mortgage have taken a beating but this has been a difficult year for every investor, so do not rush to make rash decisions and bail out.”

The two funds have been picked particularly hard because they invested heavily in US shares, which have sold off harder than UK stocks this year.

The US has fallen into a bear market, defined as a drop of more than 20 percent.

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Even after a summer recovery, the S&P 500 is down 15.20 percent year-to-date. By comparison, the UK’s FTSE 100 has fallen just 3.75 percent.

Of the two funds, Fundsmith Equity is the less risky. It targets solid international names like Microsoft, tobacco maker Philip Morris and L’Oréal.

Scottish Mortgage is more aggressive investing in fast-growing tech stocks such as Tesla and Chinese web giant Tencent. Both have been highly volatile.

Khalaf said investors should not rush to sell after just a short period of underperformance. “Investing is a long-term game, what really matters is how well they do over five or 10 years.”

Here, both funds are on stronger ground. Fundsmith Equity has grown 71.6 percent measured over five years, and Scottish Mortgage by 99.6 percent.

In both cases, long-term investors are comfortably ahead. They should not rush to sell now, especially as both funds are already showing signs of life again.

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