UK markets broke new ground in April, as the FTSE 100 moved decisively above the 8,000 level.

This was thanks to the strong performance of index heavyweights in the Mining, Oil & Gas, Pharmaceuticals and Banking sectors. Aside from Pharmaceuticals, these are sectors where we have little or no direct exposure and so the Fund lagged the wider market recovery this month. Our general aversion to these capital-intensive sectors is because we do not see these companies as sufficiently high quality for this Fund. While this stance has served us well long-term, from time-to-time we get a cyclicals rally like we did in April that largely passes us by.

While we did not make any changes to the portfolio in April, it was certainly a busy month for us, with the majority of our companies reporting results for their first quarter of the year. We were particularly encouraged to see AstraZeneca shoot the lights out with their Q1 statement. We backed in Astras during the depths of their COVID vaccine unpopularity in 2021, building a position in the early part of that year on the conviction that they had a unique pipeline of drugs that would be at the cutting-edge of oncology for the foreseeable future. Astras are delivering just that and we remain happy holders.

Elsewhere, Diploma announced the acquisition of Peerless Aerospace Fastener, a market-leading distributor of specialty fasteners into the US and European aerospace markets for $300m. On the basis of Diploma’s exceptional past acquisition record, this is exciting news for shareholders. Our largest investment, RELX, once again proved their quality with their April trading update. RELX goes from strength-to-strength and their new AI-empowered products look to gaining particular traction.

JD Sports and Spirax-Sarco Engineering remain relatively unloved in share price terms. We see both businesses as going through a quieter patch for trading, but have no concern with their long-term prospects. We have been gently adding to these positions over the last year when opportunities arise..

The above article has been prepared for investment professionals. Any other readers should note this content does not constitute advice or a solicitation to buy, sell, or hold any investment. We strongly recommend speaking to an investment adviser before taking any action based on the information contained in this article.

Please also note the value of investments and the income you get from them may fall as well as rise, and there is no certainty that you will get back the amount of your original investment. You should also be aware that past performance may not be a reliable guide to future performance.

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