Stock market spotlight: HL investors pile into Witan Investment Trust!

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Today, I’m looking at a lesser-known trust on the UK stock market. But according to Hargreaves Lansdown, Witan Investment Trust (LSE:WTAN) was the third most bought stock on its platform last week.

So what is Witan Investment Trust, and should I consider it for my portfolio?

What it does

Witan is a long-established investment trust that aims to grow shareholders’ wealth and outperform the market through active investment. The firm primarily invests in listed companies across a broad spread of global equity markets.

It was listed on the stock market in 1924, and today is a member of the FTSE 250.  Its portfolio is varied, with 13% in industrials, 13% in finance, 11% in healthcare and 11% in consumer defensives. Other sectors are well represented too. Real estate, however, only accounts for 1% of the portfolio.

Top holdings include GMO Climate Change Investment, Apax Global Alpha and Unilever.

In addition to growth, Witan’s portfolio also delivers useful dividends, with a current yield of around 2.5%.

According to Hargreaves Lansdown, 3.75% of all shares purchased last week were in Witan Investment Trust. However, it’s worth noting that the stock doesn’t appear in the most bought stocks in value terms. This, therefore, might reflect the fact that Witan shares are not overly expensive, at £2.22 per share.

The stock hasn’t exactly been making headlines recently, which is interesting considering the surge in stock activity. The firm recently appointed Shefaly Yogendra as a non-executive director, with effect from 1 February. She is currently a board member at JP Morgan’s US Smaller Companies Investment Trust.  

So, why else could it be popular? Well the trust, traditionally, has a track record of beating the market with its multi-manager strategy. It’s somewhat of a ‘generalist’, investing in stocks of all shapes and sizes. So amid this current and potentially disconcerting macroeconomic environment, investors could be drawn towards the trust and it’s impressive knack of picking the right stocks.

It’s definitely a tempting proposition. It also trades with a 7.3% discount versus its net asset value.

Downsides

Well, multi-manager funds often carry higher fees than single manager funds — Witan charges 1.32%. By comparison, Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, which was the top traded stock on the Hargreaves platform last week, carries a 0.59% charge.

Moreover, this growth-oriented trust hasn’t performed exceptionally well in recent years. It’s down 8% over one year, which isn’t entirely surprising as that’s been the general direction of the market. But it’s down 3% over three years and only up 2.6% over five years.

It is worth noting that this is still index beating, in the UK at least. Over five years, the FTSE 350 is down 0.68%. Longer-term growth is more impressive, Witan is up around 100% over 10 years. That’s slightly ahead of the index.

So would I buy this stock for my portfolio? Well, with the charges and recent growth challenges, I’m not buying. I’ll trust in my own ability to pick individual stocks.





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