Caution hurts Alliance Trust

ALLIANCE Trust, the blue-chip investment trust headed by Katherine Garrett-Cox, has said it performed worse than rivals after the manager took a cautious view on the recent equity-market rallies. <br /><br />The Dundee-based trust, which is listed on the FTSE 100 index, has said it is now ranked 36th out of a total of 44 investment-trust rivals in terms of growth over the last six months &ndash; that is a bottom-quartile ranking.<br /><br />The fund delivered total shareholder returns in the six months to end-July of 8.8 per cent, compared to performance of the FTSE All-World index of 14.2 per cent. <br /><br />The fund has not re-entered the worst-hit areas of the market &ndash; such as banks and miners &ndash; in force along with many rival funds as Garrett-Cox believes the recovery in those sectors may be short-lived. But those stocks have performed strongly &ndash; Lloyds Banking Group shares have risen by over 168 per cent over the last six months. Garrett-Cox said the 120-year-old fund did reduce its cash allocation and increased its equities exposure to around 90 per cent of net assets over the period. But, when picking stocks, her focus was on the sustainability of the companies&rsquo; dividends. &ldquo;Our approach is to invest in companies, not share prices,&rdquo; she added. The fund&rsquo;s net asset value increased by 6.8 per cent in the period. <br /><br />Meanwhile, Alliance yesterday named Robert Burgess as an executive director to head the firm&rsquo;s subsidiary Alliance Trust Savings, which provides investment dealing services.