Mark Dampier: Small can be beautiful if you're seeking a bargain

The Analyst

I am always surprised by the extent to which smaller companies are overlooked by investors.

Whether it be on a UK or global level, smaller companies don't feature heavily in many portfolios. But I believe it's an area retail investors should focus on more.

Large, institutional investors such as pension funds and insurance companies are generally unable to invest much in smaller companies. Their sheer size means they simply can't buy the amount of stock they need. Similarly, the fortunes of the world's largest companies are well publicised. Analysts pore over every detail of their accounts and the financial press dedicates many column inches to their prospects. This leaves smaller companies under-researched. Many fund managers don't bother wearing out shoe leather visiting, researching, or understanding these businesses, leaving promising bargains available for those willing to look.

While smaller companies are clearly more volatile, investors have been rewarded for taking the extra risk over the long term. Over the past 10 years, global, smaller companies have significantly outperformed their larger counterparts, returning 237 per cent compared with 141 per cent respectively. Their more volatile nature also means they make excellent vehicles for monthly savings into an ISA or SIPP.

One of our favourite fund managers in this area is Harry Nimmo, who has generated superb returns on the SLI UK Smaller Companies fund since its launch in January 1997. The fund has now reached capacity and is no longer seeking new investment.

The SLI Global Smaller Companies Fund was launched in January 2012 to capture the increasing array of opportunities to be found across the world. Mr Nimmo's role entails overseeing the management of the fund, ensuring his well-rehearsed investment process is adhered to. In terms of stock picking his key focus is on the UK portion where 16 per cent of the fund is invested. The portfolio is co-managed by Alan Rowsell who focuses on the fund's overseas holdings. The pair work closely together in finding the highest-quality stocks to add to the portfolio. It is concentrated with around 57 stocks at present which allows each to have a significant impact on performance, but it is higher risk.

Mr Nimmo's emphasis on quality has worked well in the UK. He looks to buy tomorrow's larger companies today. This means he prefers those with a proven business model, ideally generating recurring revenue to help the company prosper through good times and bad. He also likes those able to raise prices without seeing a drop in demand and those operating in areas with barriers to entry, making it harder for the competition to swoop in and take market share.

A large part of Mr Nimmo's success over the long term can be attributed to his willingness to hold onto his winners, participating in their success as they grow. This fund has had a number of successes in the US where around 38 per cent of the portfolio is invested. Examples include Maximus which operates a variety of services for government human and health programmes in the US. The business has seen increasing demand for its services especially as the government seeks to outsource as a way of cutting the budget deficit.

Other holdings include Amtrust, an insurance company whose business has continued to grow, and Polaris, which has seen sales increase as it has introduced exciting new products to its off-road vehicle and motorcycle franchise.

Initial results have been encouraging with the fund rising by 25.6 per cent since launch compared with the average in the sector which has returned 19.4 per cent. Significant contributors to performance also include Cosmos Pharmaceuticals, a Japanese discount pharmaceutical chain, which has been held in the portfolio since launch. The company's discount business model enables it to take market share from the competition and they it has now embarked on an aggressive expansion plan. The stock has grown to be the largest position in the fund in keeping with the managers' investment philosophy of running their winners and cutting their losers.

The fund seems to have had little publicity since launch which is strange given the quality team and Mr Nimmo's long track record.

For those seeking a long-term investment in under-exploited areas of the market where plenty of anomalies and mispricing's still exist, I believe this fund could be a good place to start.

Mark Dampier is head of research at Hargreaves Lansdown, the asset manager, financial advisor and stockbroker. For more details about the funds included in this column, visit www.hl.co.uk/independent

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

    SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

    £20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn