April delivered another solid month in performance. Both funds outperformed
the benchmark by circa 6% over the past six months as a result of many of the portfolio companies delivering strong earnings results. As stated last year, investors will shift away from all the anxiety on inflation and talk of a regime change which led to indiscriminate selling of the highest quality companies last year, back to rewarding companies that are delivering consistent earnings growth. Over the long-term it is all about sustainable earnings growth that drives share prices. Last year’s fall in share prices of some of the highest quality and most profitable companies was a major opportunity for investors to buy and not sell.
There continues to be an intense debate around the extent to which interest rates will be cut over the next 12 months, and concerns around a deep recession, with the consensus opinion now forecasting that inflation will likely remain above the tolerance threshold of central banks for the foreseeable future. Consensus views have generally proven to be wrong, historically. The benefit of investing in some of the most profitable companies with debt-free or low-debt balance sheets, and above-average earnings growth, is that they can provide superior returns in the current uncertain market environment. Despite the challenges of the last two years, businesses with these attributes have shown resilience and strength in stormy conditions. Insync’s investment approach of investing in the most profitable companies with the tailwinds of megatrends results in their earnings having very low sensitivity to the economy.
Meta Platforms –AI Winner
Excluding China (where US social media companies are generally excluded) Meta Platforms Family of Apps are used monthly by a staggering 90% of the world’s connected population.
Meta has a long history of investing into AI. For years, Meta has employed a world-class AI research team that has been publishing industry-changing research. Even though we can’t see it, Meta has, for years, used AI to recommend posts in our feeds, moderate content, and target ads behind the scenes in Instagram and Facebook.
Meta is currently incorporating AI more visibly into his company’s products. They are deploying AI technologies to assist advertisers optimise their spend across different mediums with the company saying it’s improved its “monetization efficiency,” or how much the company makes off of ads they sell on Reels, by 30-40 percent on Instagram and Facebook.
Insync significantly increased the Fund’s exposure to Meta when shares were trading below US$100 in November 2022, as investors were fretting over how much the company was spending on the Metaverse. What was not appreciated was that 80% of their investments was spent on their core business including AI. Meta shares are today trading in excess of US$200.
Meta Platforms has 80% gross margin, over 19% net margins (which includes an expense/deduction of R&D spend of $35.4bn), and returns on invested capital in excess of 25%. It is an extremely profitable business which is in a strong position to benefit from the exponential deployment of artificial intelligence.