Income funds ranked: Miton Group tops the performance charts, while a HSBC fund is bottom of the black list

Lucy White
Income funds are becoming increasing popular as investors search for cash returns (Source: Getty)

Wealth manager Sanlam has released its definitive half-yearly list of UK equity income funds – and it contains results which some may find surprising.

The CF Miton UK Multi Cap Income fund, run by Gervais Williams and Martin Turner, topped the performance rankings, while the HSBC Income fund hit rock bottom.

The performance is based on metrics including absolute income generated over the past five calendar years, capital growth for each of the past five 12-month periods and volatility over the past five years. Sanlam then orders the funds into a superior "white list", the "grey list" which is defined as “a temporary home for a manager with an out-of-favour style or an early warning signal for a fund in decline” and the "black list" of consistent underperformers.

“The market has been open to speculative activity, but the fundamentals remain strong,” said Phil Smeaton, chief investment officer at Sanlam UK.

"While concerns raised about the future relationship between the UK and EU to come – not to mention the shape of the labour market – have some merit, the outlook for UK listed companies appears to have weathered any potential storm."

In a world where interest rates are low and investors are increasingly keen on funds which distribute cash, Sanlam's rating of income funds might be more important than ever. So who fell exactly where on the wealth manager's lists?

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The white list

The CF Miton UK Multi Cap Income fund retained its top spot, due to what Sanlam termed “strong returns, low volatility and maintaining a high income pay-out”.

Slater Income slid up into second place, while MI Chelverton UK Equity Income rose from the bottom of the white list in the last study to third place.

The Bath-based fund, run by David Taylor and David Horner, performed strongly over the past year due to its “bias toward mid and small cap companies, along with their continued high income distribution levels”, according to Sanlam.

Marlborough Multi Cap Income and Majedie UK Income, which ranked fourth and fifth respectively, have both continued their upward trajectory. “These funds have two things in common: a high income pay-out and strong consistent performance versus peers,” said Sanlam.

One fund which did particularly well was the Unicorn UK Income, which recovered to re-enter the white list after being hit by the results of the UK's Brexit referendum last year.

The full white list
CF Miton UK Multi Cap Income
Slater Income
MI Chelverton UK Equity Income
Marlborough Multi Cap Income
Majedie UK Income
Premier Monthly Income
Royal London UK Equity Income
SLI UK Equity Income Unconstrained
AXA Framlington Monthly Income
Threadneedle UK Equity Income
Unicorn UK Income
Premier Income
JOHCM UK Equity Income
River & Mercantile UK Equity Income

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The grey list

Threadneedle's three income funds have often performed well in Sanlam's rankings. Threadneedle UK Equity Income has retained its place in the white list, although it has fallen by five places, but both other funds have now dropped into the grey list.

Threadneedle UK Monthly Income was demoted in the previous study, while Threadneedle UK Equity Alpha Income has now fallen 15 places to suffer the same fate.

Schroder Income Maximiser is stuck back in the grey list after rising to the white list in the last study. Its gains “appear to have unwound”, but the fund has maintained its strong yield which still ranks first for dividend income provided in the past five years.

Man GLG UK Income grabbed the title of the largest mover in the half-yearly study, swooping up 32 places from the black list to almost the top of the grey list. But the Franklin UK Equity Income fund has dropped from the white list “as the income provided in the past five years has been lower than its peers, coupled with poorer performance than the sector average”, said Sanlam.

The Troy Trojan Income fund has also fallen 16 places, after dropping 18 in the last study. “Its quality style bias has continued to impact upon performance, and the amount of income the fund has provided over the past five years has continued to lag,” said Sanlam.

Schroder Income and Rathbone Income have both made a return to the study to drop directly into the grey list, benefitting from the Investment Association's decision to lower the yield requirements for funds in the equity income sector. Now funds must only cross a yield hurdle of 100 per cent of the FTSE All-Share index yield over a three-year rolling period, as opposed to 110 per cent.

The full grey list
Rathbone Income
Smith & Williamson UK Equity Income
Man GLG UK Income Retail
Schroder Income
Lazard Multicap UK Income
Threadneedle UK Equity Alpha Income
Schroder Income Maximiser
Ardevora UK Income
RBS Equity Income
F&C Responsible UK Income
Allianz UK Equity Income
Old Mutual UK Equity Income
Threadneedle UK Monthly Income
Aviva Investors UK Equity Income
Schroder UK Alpha Income
Artemis Income
Franklin UK Equity Income
FP Miton Income
Santander Equity Income
Kames UK Equity Income
Troy Trojan Income
BlackRock UK Income
Fidelity MoneyBuilder Dividend
Liontrust Macro Equity Income
Jupiter Income Trust
SLI UK Equity High Income
Santander Enhanced Income
Rathbone Blue Chip Income and Growth
Fidelity Enhanced Income

The black list

Invesco Perpetual Income & Growth is also a new entrant to Sanlam's study, benefitting from the lowering of the yield hurdle, but has pitched straight into the black list. Sanlam notes there has been very little change to the list of worst performers, although Scottish Widows UK Equity Income – which has been bottom for some time – has had its place assumed by HSBC Income.

The greatest faller in the entire study is Newton UK Income, which has sunk 24 places from the grey list to the black list after being knocked out of the white list last study. It has “struggled in terms of performance and its dividend pay-out level”, according to Sanlam.

The full black list
Castlefield BEST Income General
AXA Framlington Blue Chip Equity Income
Neptune Income
JPM UK Higher Income
Invesco Perpetual Income & Growth
NFU Mutual UK Equity Income
CF Canlife UK Equity Income
L&G UK Equity Income
M&G Dividend
F&C UK Equity Income
Newton UK Income
Scottish Widows UK Equity Income
Aberdeen UK Equity Income
HSBC Income Retail

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