Smaller Companies | Masterclass

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  • 38 mins 48 secs

Learning: Structured

There are some big problems facing the global economy and world markets at the moment, from rising inflation to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. What does this all mean for smaller companies? This Masterclass in association with Premier Miton discusses these topics and more. Taking part are:

  • Nick Ford, Fund Manager, Premier Miton US Smaller Companies Fund
  • Alan Rowsell, Portfolio Manager, Premier Miton Global Smaller Companies Fund

Learning outcomes:

  1. The conditions that tend to favour smaller company outperformance
  2. The small cap effect and why it still works in a digital age
  3. The impact of rising rates and inflation on smaller companies' prospects
Channel: Masterclass
MARK COLEGATE: Hello. There are some big problems facing the global economy and world markets at the moment, from rising inflation to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. So what does that all mean for smaller companies? Well, that’s what we’re going to look at today on Masterclass, in association with Premier Miton. I’m Mark Colegate. I am joined here in the studio by two members of the Fund Management team from that group. Let’s meet them. They are Nick Ford, who’s Co-Manager of the Premier Miton US Smaller Companies Fund alongside Hugh Grieves, so Hugh isn’t joining us today, but we’re also joined in the studio by Alan Rowsell. He’s Manager of the Premier Miton Global Smaller Companies Fund.

Well, let’s start by finding out a little bit more about how they run the money. Nick Ford, do you run money the same way as Alan or slightly differently?

NICK FORD: I think there’s a fair degree of commonality. We tend to be a little bit further along in the risk spectrum, we take a higher degree of risk, because we’re investing in earlier stage small-cap growth companies, smaller market caps with projected probably higher rates of top-line growth, because we’re trying to catch these companies earlier in their evolution. The risk side of that is that if things go wrong there can be capital loss given that it’s a higher risk strategy. But we do have some overlapping holdings and we’re both big growth fans.

MARK COLEGATE: Well, you said smaller market cap than Alan, we’ll come to Alan in a second, but what is that, typically what’s the size of a company?

NICK FORD: Yes, we’re in companies I’d say the sweet spot around about one to one and a half billion at the time of investment.

MARK COLEGATE: Dollars is that?

NICK FORD: Dollars, yes. We do go up to six billion as a maximum starter position market cap-wise. And these companies have typically lower levels of trading liquidity, higher levels of volatility. So it is a higher risk strategy, but we think for long-term investors taking a three-to-five-year view that there could be some, we can hopefully provide them with some attractive returns.

MARK COLEGATE: And, Alan, how big are the small caps in your portfolio?

ALAN ROWSELL: Yes, in the global small-cap universe, we’re talking a slightly higher average market cap than Nick. It’s around about five to six billion dollars on average. The way we define our global small-cap universe is the bottom 15% of market cap in each of the 49 countries that make up the Global Index.

MARK COLEGATE: And Nick was saying, like to those earlier stage companies, very growthy, are you as growthy as Nick or do you like to have a bit of value in there as ballast?

ALAN ROWSELL: We’re looking for high quality smaller companies that are undervalued by the market, and that can be either growth, value or defensive. We’re flexible on that. We analyse what’s changing in the market and the trends at the company, sector, factor and macro levels to determine what environment we’re in. So there are some common holdings between us and when the conditions are right we invest in higher quality growth companies.

NICK FORD: Yes, I should probably jump in there as well actually to make another important distinction. We’ve said to our investor base that this is a specifically aggressive growth fund and we do not get involved in value strategies. So it’s a fund that, the US Smaller Company Fund is one that can be pigeonholed by prospective investors. We’re not going to change the strategy if value investments are doing well; we will stick with what we’re, stick to the knitting and probably look to buy more of what we already own at more attractive prices should they pull back.

MARK COLEGATE: Nick, thank you for that. Let’s look now at what the outlook is for smaller companies today. I mentioned in the introduction, Nick, inflation is on the rise, we’ve seen Russian invasion of Ukraine continuing to unfold, does that make now a good time to invest in smaller companies or not a great time?

NICK FORD: Well I think there’s both pros and cons really. On the positive side, the US smaller company sector is relatively insulated from the geopolitical background. There are a lot of fast-growing companies that should continue to do well by virtue of having important disruptive products or services, large markets to attack. So that’s the positive side. And don’t forget most of these companies are not really big overseas earners; most of their revenues come from the domestic market. So that’s the encouraging side. On the negative side of the ledger, we do have to acknowledge that these companies probably will face some wage pressures, given the inflation we’re seeing in the US and globally, and some input cost pressures related to higher oil prices.

So net-net I’d say it evens out. But certainly I would anticipate more interest in the US small-cap sector based on a number of investors thinking how can we get away from some of these trade war issues, some of these sanctions-related issues which might potentially affect some of the large multinational companies more than the domestically focused US ones.

MARK COLEGATE: And Nick, you’ve been running the fund now for I think about four years, it launched March 2018, in that period whenever times have been tough in the world economy, has the fund benefitted because investors in the round have said we want to be in the States and in the dollar?

NICK FORD: Yes, the fund particularly benefitted ironically from the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020. We have a lot of online-related plays, a lot of companies which transact via the internet and so forth, and the valuations of those companies soared during lockdown when people realised if they wanted to get things done they really needed to use the internet. They couldn’t go out to physical stores and so forth. So that was a big headwind for the fund during that period. Since then with global economies reopening again, there’s been a big switch out of the high growth internet, working from home related plays into the reopening plays, and that’s benefitted the value side of the Russell 2000 Index, which is the benchmark for smaller companies. So really since the vaccine was discovered, it’s been more of a headwind for aggressive growth strategies, but the longer-term outlooks for these companies remains excellent and so we’re very optimistic about the prospects for a lot of our holdings.

MARK COLEGATE: Thank you. And, Alan, from that global small-cap perspective, how does what’s going on in geopolitics at the moment affect the outlook for your portfolio?

ALAN ROWSELL: Yes, global small-cap investors have had a lot to deal with in the last couple of years. Obviously there was the pandemic that struck in February/March 2020, then over the last year rising inflation and tightening monetary policy and the impact that that has on valuations in particular and of course more recently it’s the conflict in Ukraine. You know, many of these things are difficult to predict, but what we have seen in the past that usually the best time to invest in equities and the best time to invest in small-caps when small-caps tend to outperform large-caps is when the news is at its worst.

So, for example, if you look back in the autumn of 2008 when the Lehman crisis struck that was a great time to be buying equities and buying small-cap; in July/August of 2012 in the depths of the euro debt crisis, that also was the low point for small-cap investing; and March of 2020 again in hindsight a great time to be buying small-cap. And it could be that we’re approaching one of those points at the moment, it’s very difficult to predict in real time, but what we are looking for is signs that the conflict in Russia/Ukraine is de-escalating rather than escalating. And I think the other thing to watch is inflation. If inflation starts to peak that would mean less in the way of tightening of monetary policy I think that would be a good thing for small-caps.

MARK COLEGATE: And, Alan, your fund, I think you mentioned there’s 49 countries that are in the benchmark. Was Russia or Ukraine, were either of those, those 49 and, if not, how did you work out what your direct exposure was when this all started to kick off?

ALAN ROWSELL: Yes, there were some Russian stocks in the index. That’s been removed. In the fund, we didn’t have any direct exposure to Russia or Ukraine; it’s more the indirect impact of the rising commodity prices and the impact on supply chains that impacts a lot of different sectors and different companies.

MARK COLEGATE: So do you then have to go back over all your companies and say well I thought it was robust for the world that faced us in January 2022, I felt pretty confident about that, but now March/April 2022 I’d better go and check all those calculations again and change some of those inputs and assumptions?

ALAN ROWSELL: It’s certainly kept us on our toes. There’s a lot changing in the world over the last couple of years, as I mentioned. Many of the impacts here are actually similar to what we’ve been thinking about for a while of supply chains that are challenged, rising inflation, rising commodity costs and looking for those companies that have pricing power that they can protect their margins by passing on the increased costs to their consumers. So that’s still the type of company that we’re looking for.

MARK COLEGATE: And, Nick, I hear a lot of fund managers say you want companies that have got pricing power. But if prices go up 2 or 3%, I can see a company might have pricing power; if prices go up 10, 15, 16%, I’m sure there’s going to be a smaller pool that have got that pricing power. How do you think about that?

NICK FORD: Yes, I think you’ve got to look at the various segments within the small-cap universe about where there is pricing power and where there isn’t. Some of the companies within the basic materials, energy-related sectors, industrials probably have some fairly decent pricing power and others don’t. What we look at and the key area of focus for us is really unit volume growth and potential and where is that strong, and try to make an assumption that the customers of companies showing high unit volume growth will accept price increases somewhere along or vaguely in line with the current inflation rates. But I think you’ve highlighted a key point of focus for small-cap investors and that is that to what extent not having enough pricing power means that you start to have margin compression and that’s something we’re watching very, very carefully.

MARK COLEGATE: But again if inflation does take off, how many of your companies say we’ve got stuff that people really need, and might their consumers go actually do you know what you’re a discretionary spend? In our own lives there are things we buy and then, you know, if the price of a subscription goes beyond a certain level, we get a bit cross and we cut it and do you know what life was all right without it, we feel pretty good about ourselves.

NICK FORD: Yes, one of the things that Hugh and I have focused on heavily since we launched our US products, our main fund was launched pretty much 10 years ago to the day, but we’ve always been very focused on Porter’s Five Forces as a key part of the strategy. And we look for companies that provide really essential products or services or tools to customers that they really can’t run their businesses without, and that creates a sticky and loyal customer base that you can grow over time if you’ve got an exciting product. And that theme really runs through both our main funds, particularly the small fund, because we like companies with high levels of recurring revenues, i.e. companies that sign long-term contracts, hopefully three to five years, which means that that revenue stream is not going to go away. And so I’d say one big bias the US Small Cap Fund has is towards business services companies. Companies which are helping other companies run their businesses more efficiently, save costs, execute more efficiently and position them to help win in the long run. We’ve found that to be a good strategy.

MARK COLEGATE: Thank you. And, Alan, obviously if you’re a company, it’s great if you’ve got products people want to buy and you’ve got that margin, but the flipside is how much debt you’ve got on the balance sheet. And, again, a period where we’re hearing talk about perhaps not just inflation but rates going to rise, as you look at your portfolio, what’s the difference between a bit of gearing and effective use of balance sheet and somebody who’s now got a debt repayment problem on their hands?

ALAN ROWSELL: Yes, good question. I think in a rising inflation, rising interest rate environment, this is a time to be wary of companies that have a lot of debt on their balance sheet. When we talk about investing in higher quality companies, one of the characteristics of that are companies with strong balance sheets that don’t have too much debt, that are more able to fund their growth through their own internally generated cashflow. So we would be wary of highly indebted companies at this point in the cycle.

MARK COLEGATE: Alan, could you give us, I want to get an example from each of you, but could I start with you, could you give us an example of one of these companies that it can essentially fund its own growth? Now, we don’t know what’s going to happen to it in the future, but just take us from this world of theory to something that you’ve got in the portfolio.

ALAN ROWSELL: One company that we really like at the moment and we bought quite recently is an Indian company called Varun Beverages. They are the largest distributor of soft drinks for Pepsi in India. So Pepsi outsource that bottling and distribution to Varun. They have a long relationship, 29 years. And really the story here is one of rising consumption in India as people can afford to buy more soft drinks and expanding the footprint, expanding the distribution across the country. Really good management, strong profitable business model where they can fund that growth, that expansion through their own cashflows, they don’t need much debt.

MARK COLEGATE: Nick, can I get an example from the US portfolio?

NICK FORD: Yes, I’d highlight a company we recently purchased called Optimise Rx. It’s a platform company. And that’s an interesting point in its own right because you asked about companies funding their own growth. There have been a lot of companies come public in recent years, we call them recent IPOs, and what’s interesting about the platform companies, which make up a lot of these names, is that they’ve already invested, used the money from the IPO or from prior early investors in building out these IT platforms that provide really helpful services. And Optimise Rx has a platform which physicians subscribe to to get access to all the latest data on drugs they might or might not prescribe to patients. So they log into the platform provided by Optimise Rx and they’ll get data on the pricing of the drugs, alternative therapies and how expensive they are, the efficiency of the treatments, to what extent they solve the problem quickly. And these are very, very helpful tools to physicians. And Optimise RX is a typical example of what’s going on in the fast-growing small-cap world in the US. A lot of these companies have become public. They’re solving problems and they’re providing essential tools and services.

MARK COLEGATE: And if that stock does really, really well, can you hold onto it, or is there a point you have to, say sell it and get furious as you watch it do really well and become a mid-cap and a large-cap?

NICK FORD: We don’t have to do that. It tends to be at a natural, the sell point tends to be a natural decision based on the eventual deceleration of the growth of the company. So what we’re looking for are fast-growing companies with accelerating top-line growth. You tend to see that over time, as these companies execute and deliver on their growth projections, more and more investors get excited about it. More investors that can’t invest in the company in the earlier stage of its growth can invest as the market cap increases. But over time that tends to drive the valuation of the stock to quite high levels quite frequently at the time when growth starts to decelerate. And that’s the time you want to be exiting the position.

So that’s what we watch very carefully to what extent is the valuation expanded at a time when growth might be about to decelerate because of the law of large numbers, that’s the sell point. But we don’t have, there’s no hard and fast rule you have to sell at x billion market cap. We’ll continue to run the position if we believe that the growth is still strong and stable.

MARK COLEGATE: Alan, picking up on that, I actually want to challenge you, is that actually true? Because I can remember a few years ago you heard a lot about the small-cap effect, but if you look over the last few years it’s been the large-cap tech companies that have absolutely dominated. And a lot of that growth has come from the network effect, you know, the bigger they’ve got, the faster the growth has taken place. So do you think the thesis of the small-cap effect still holds or has it been rather damaged by this move to a digital and online world?

ALAN ROWSELL: Large-cap tech, mega-cap tech has had tremendous performance in recent years that has muted the small-cap effect, but we still believe in it. Let’s remember that returns from small-caps over the last 10 years or so have been roughly in line with large-caps. So investors have still enjoyed tremendous returns in small-cap, it’s just we haven’t had that outperformance that we’ve got used to over the decades and that academic research has written so much about. And the reason that outperformance hasn’t been there, as you talked about, it’s really down to the outperformance of large-cap tech. I think that’s a function of some of these tremendous businesses, the Apples, Googles, Microsofts of this world, that have enjoyed great product cycles and, you know, with the internet, building a global network effect. But let’s remember that the internet has been a great benefit to small-caps as well and to small-cap tech.

But the main reason, it’s just index composition. That in large-cap tech makes up a much bigger part of the indices than in small-cap. If you were to adjust for that, I think you would see that the small-cap effect is still there and, in fact, if you look at countries such as the UK or Europe, small-caps have outperformed significantly over the last 10 years, and in other sectors like healthcare or industrials, materials, small-caps have outperformed. So it’s really that large-cap tech effect that is masking the small-cap effect.

MARK COLEGATE: Nick, what are your thoughts on that?

NICK FORD: Yes, I think that is absolutely right. I would just add, the impact in recent years of the trend towards investors preferring index products and going for passive strategies rather than active. And if you think about that, that trend over the last 10 years has been very heavily reinforced by the fact that a small number of very large index weights within the S&P 500 have driven a lot of the index’s returns. So obviously over the last five, six, seven years, we’re talking Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, Netflix and so forth. If you are an active US fund manager running big funds and you don’t have full positions, full exposure to those names, the chances are you’re going to face performance headwinds. And to get up to weight in those mega-cap stocks, you’re probably going to need to reduce some of your small-cap exposure to provide the money you need to get up to weight.

And that selling pressure I think has been there for the small-cap area for a long period now. And it may be starting to abate, to go away, because as some of these mega-cap tech stocks have started to stumble a little bit, Facebook is a good example, that lessens the requirement for active PMs benchmarked against the S&P 500 to be in these names and it should free up cash for other sectors, in particular the small-cap sector. And I think what you’ll see is, if the Russell 2000 starts to do better than the S&P 500 and fund managers notice that people with more exposure to the small-cap end are performing well, there could be quite a big flip-flop out of the big-caps into small-caps.

MARK COLEGATE: But you’ve also got a more mainstream, if I say more mainstream US fund, and what share prices are doing at any particular point in time you could argue is more noise than a trend. But as you look at those large-cap tech companies, put where the share price is to one side, if you look at the underlying revenues and profitability of them, are you seeing signs that now they’re so big that law of large numbers is kicking in and they are past their peak, or can they continue to grow and at some point market sentiment catches up with them?

NICK FORD: I think the law of large numbers is a great way of looking at it. We’ve already seen that with Facebook, their top-line growth has started to slow. Amazon is still managing to put up good numbers because of its Amazon Web Services division, it’s tech division is still doing well. But yes I think it’s very difficult when you get to these types of revenue bases to sustain the levels of growth you need to be classified as a growth company. And if the growth does start to mature and slow down, the natural place to look for high top-line growth is the small-cap growth arena.

MARK COLEGATE: Alan, picking up on that point around indexation. If you were a global investor, how easy is it to buy a small-cap global index fund and how efficient is the Global Small-Cap Index?

ALAN ROWSELL: Yes, it’s reasonably easy to buy a passive index fund. They are available either at the global small-cap level or individual regional country funds. But I think it’s important to remember that when you buy a global small-cap index fund, you are buying a very diversified index. I mean the index is about 6,000 companies. You don’t always get that full exposure in the index fund; they tend to buy a representative sample. But it’s effectively a proxy for the global stock market. So we think global small-cap is an under-researched, relatively inefficient part of the market. There are a lot of low quality companies in global small-cap and the active manager can avoid those, screen those out and add value, add alpha by focusing on the higher quality companies.

MARK COLEGATE: Well, coming back to that, 6,000 companies in the peer group, if you like, how many can you knock out, without even looking for the good companies, how many of those 6,000 can you knock out straightaway because they’re crazy levels of in debt, they’ve never made any money, whatever it happens to be, just to get some idea of, I was going to say what the dross is, I was being a little unfair, but what the really low quality stuff is within that?

ALAN ROWSELL: Quite a high proportion. There’s quite a high number of very small illiquid, many of them would be highly indebted or loss-making companies that through our quant screens, we just screen those out at step one. So, for example, I believe in the Russell 2000, 44%, there or thereabouts, of the companies are loss-making. And with our approach we tend to focus on profitable companies with good margins, good returns on capital. We don’t feel we need to take the risk in the loss-making companies.

MARK COLEGATE: And, Nick, you were mentioning there that if sentiment changes on small-cap, some of these really big investors may well move into small-cap and out of the large-cap. When did that last happen and what sort of boost does it give to stock prices, how sustainable is it?

NICK FORD: Well, small companies tend to do well coming out of downturns. That’s often the best time to invest. I think Alan hinted at this earlier with some of the downdrafts we’ve seen in the sector. But if you think about it, when investors anticipate a recession, they worry about falling profitability and they become risk averse. They tend to move towards blue-chip sustainable growth-type companies often in the food/beverage type sector and maybe healthcare sector. And to get that exposure, they’ll often reduce their higher risk smaller company exposure, so small-caps tend to do less well going into economic downturns. But it works beautifully coming out of it the other way, because investors then want companies set to benefit from the improving economic backdrop. And you often get a stampede into the small-cap sector at a time when trading liquidity is lower than it is for the blue-chip sector and that can produce some fabulous shorter-term returns for people investing in smaller companies.

So, I’d say that where we are right now from the geopolitical point, and I agree with Alan, we’re almost at the point of maximum pain and concerns about what’s going on and probably at a point where the downside for the small-cap sector is diminishing somewhat, but the upside could be fantastic if things start to, if the economic and geopolitical outlook brightens.

MARK COLEGATE: Well, I want to challenge you guys on that one, because you mentioned the R word, Nick, recession. Alan, are the chances of a global recession now on the rise given what’s happening, you know, this extraordinary dislocation that’s taking place with the rise of oil prices, this rise in inflation, a lot of people are saying this could be 1973 all over again?

ALAN ROWSELL: We can’t dismiss them. I think with the geopolitical situation, rising inflation and rising interest rates, central banks are having to take action to tackle inflation. There is a risk that the economy slows and potentially goes into recession. One indicator I would watch is the shape of the yield curve, and you’ll have seen that flattening for several months now, and a good indicator in the past is when the yield curve has inverted and turned negative, and we’re currently only at plus 25, plus 30 basis points on the yield curve. So we’re not there yet. The bond market, which is a good predictor of these things, isn’t saying recession is coming yet, but if inflation gets worse and the economy slows then it could happen.

MARK COLEGATE: And obviously we don’t know what happens in the future and it’s a world of probabilities, but, Nick, what sort of probability would you put on us having a global recession at some point in the next few months or year or so?

NICK FORD: I think you can certainly say that the impact of higher fuel prices is going to hurt US consumers. So they’re feeling the pain at the pump so that does reduce discretionary spending. We’ve seen that in the recent underperformance of the consumer discretionary sector within the Russell 2000. So that is definitely a worry. I think we, Hugh and I, try to be macro aware but not macro forecasters. It does look as if the clouds are darkening somewhat and the risks of recession have gone up. The one possible offset which does give me some cause for optimism is during the pandemic consumers weren’t able to spend. So their savings are in relatively good shape and there could be some decent firepower to see them through this more challenging time. So that’s a big unknown. But I would certainly have to acknowledge that the chances of a recession have increased. I think to not accept that would be somewhat reckless.

ALAN ROWSELL: I think that Nick raises a good point there that we have to remember, on the positive side, that we are recovering from a global pandemic and, touch wood, as we look at things at the moment, economies are reopening, restrictions are being lifted, we’re getting somewhat back towards our normal lives, and that will be a tailwind for the global economy and further profitability of smaller companies.

MARK COLEGATE: And, Alan, how important is dividend for your portfolio, is it out-and-out growth or do you like companies that can provide a bit of income that you can reinvest, you know, because I guess pound cost averaging can work for your unit holders?

ALAN ROWSELL: Yes, we take a total return approach. It’s not an income fund as such. So we’re looking at the earnings and cashflows in total that our companies can generate and very much the potential for future earnings and cashflows as well. But dividends are a sign that a company is cash-generative and is able to invest in the company as well as have some spare cash left over to return to shareholders.

MARK COLEGATE: Thank you. Nick, if we are at a point where inflation’s going up, rates are rising, the way the valuations work, that’s not great news for growth stocks in the round. And I know you said earlier if times are tough you keep doing what you do. I suppose two bits, if rates do go up, what do you think is likely to happen to the valuation of growth in the short term, and how tough is it to keep holding the faith when you do go through a difficult time on a portfolio?

NICK FORD: Yes, I think the big Achilles’ heel in small-cap aggressive growth investing is higher interest rates and higher inflation. It means that future earnings and sales are more sharply discounted and worth less. Where I take some comfort here is that we’ve already seen a huge valuation reset for aggressive growth small-cap companies growing, projected to grow, we’re talking about companies projected to grow the top-line 20, 25, 30%, and it’s that sector of the market which has been most heavily marked down by the backup in bond yields and the rise in inflation we’ve seen. So it has been painful, but small-cap investors usually take the approach that if over time you can continue to execute on your business plan and meet your top-line growth objectives, over time the valuations quickly become more attractive because you’ve had a falling share price and a falling valuation at a time when sales and earnings are still hopefully increasing at a rapid rate.

So valuations can correct quite quickly. They already have done. If you look at the Renaissance IPO ETF, which is a proxy for aggressive growth investing, these are early stage recent IPO companies. That’s had a very, very sharp fall in its unit price. And I’m optimistic that we’ve seen most of the pain in terms of valuation reset. For there to be a further downdraft in small-cap valuations, we’d need to see inflation and interest rates significantly higher at this point. So I’m optimistic that we may have seen most of the reset and there may be a further downdraft but I think we’re probably towards the end of the tunnel rather than the middle of it.

MARK COLEGATE: OK. We’ve got a couple of minutes left and I notice from looking at your top 10s, there’s one holding you’ve got in common, NextEra Energy Partners, so I wanted to get a little final thought from each of you around why you like it. Alan, from a global perspective, what does this do to the portfolio?

ALAN ROWSELL: Well, NextEra is one of the largest renewable energy companies in the world. They have a portfolio of wind, solar assets, as well as actually some natural gas pipelines, and it’s a good way for us to benefit from the growing investment that you’re seeing in renewable energy.

NICK FORD: Yes, well, our fund, we’re always looking for the most exciting and innovative high-growth companies within sectors across the small-cap universe, and within the utilities sector NextEra screened really well for us: very high top-line sales growth, a good margin profile in the long run and a great longer-term growth opportunity, so it’s an ideal holding for our aggressive growth fund.

MARK COLEGATE: Right, we’re pretty much out of time there, so we’ve talked through a lot in the course of the last 40 minutes or so, but if you could leave us with one key thought around small-cap investing, what would that be? Nick, let’s start with you.

NICK FORD: I’d say if you’re prepared to take a reasonably long-term view and buy and hold a company with outstanding long-term growth prospects that you should get attractive returns over time.

MARK COLEGATE: Alan?

ALAN ROWSELL: Yes, I think there’s a lot of volatility at the moment and a lot of news flow, but try and focus on your long-term saving investment objectives and remember that smaller companies do tend to generate or have the potential to generate higher returns over the longer-term, and they help to diversify your portfolio as well. This is a part of the market that has companies that you tend not to find in some of the more mainstream and large-cap funds, so it is a good way to get exposure to something different.

NICK FORD: Can I just interject one other point as well?

MARK COLEGATE: Yes.

NICK FORD: Just remind investors that certainly when I started out doing this, companies like Starbucks and later Amazon were smaller companies.

MARK COLEGATE: We have to leave it there. Thank you for watching. Do stay with us. We’ve got some information coming up in just a second on how you can potentially use this as part of your structured learning. It just remains for me to thank our fantastic panellists: Nick Ford and Alan Rowsell. From all of us here goodbye for now!
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