Four investment funds in the health sector: an opportunity for patient investors

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Everybody needs medical attention at some point in your life. And where there is something that everyone needs, there is also a great opportunity for investors. More than 7.8 trillion dollars (approximately 6.6 trillion euros) are invested every year in healthcare around the world, half of that amount in the US.

Since the sector is growing considerably faster than the overall world economy, it is almost certain that these figures will be higher by the end of the decade, even more so considering the current pandemic. The health sector is so broad that the companies involved in its activity can be segmented into different types:

1) Pharmacist: It focuses on the development of drugs to treat diseases. As part of this group, biotechnology uses living organisms, such as bacteria or enzymes, to develop medications. The listed companies in this group can be large, with annual sales figures of billions of euros, or small biotech companies that have not yet started to market their products.

2) Medical device manufacturers: They are part of another group of companies that manufacture devices used to care for patients. These devices can be simple, like thermometers or disposable gloves, or they can be very complex, like artificial heart valves and surgical robots.

3) Companies that take care of healthcare costs: Primarily health insurers, which collect premiums from individuals and employers to pay for health care costs.

Comparative evolution of different health subsectors.


4) Healthcare providers: They are on the front lines offering healthcare services to patients, including hospitals, doctor’s offices, home health companies and long-term care facilities.

The four groups of companies have great potential for future development, even without Covid-19. Longevity, increased demand for medical care in developed countries and, in general, greater concern for prevention and health care were already in wide demand before the arrival of the coronavirus in our lives.

Regulation and potential

But it is a highly regulated sector. We are now seeing how vaccines have to go through a long period of testing before being authorized for public use, which implies a strong investment in research, development and testing of a product that may or may not be approved for commercialization.

This is especially so in the case of biotechnology and pharmacy. Insurers and manufacturers of medical devices are more stable businesses. For this reason, it is important that a portfolio in the health sector is well diversified, including securities from the four groups to reduce its risk.

The weight of trials

An easy way to do this is through an investment fund. In the VDOS Health category there are two particularly interesting funds. One of them is AB Sicav I – International Health Care Portfolio that achieves a one-year return of 14% in its class A in dollars, with a fairly controlled volatility of 16%. Follow an investment style bottom-up pure, individual selection of companies. The management team believes that it is not possible to predict the results of scientific trials and develop an investment process that is repeatable over time, so they focus on the businesses of the companies in which they invest.

They use the Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) as an indicator, considering that it is a truer representative of the value that a company is creating for its shareholders. It includes stocks of Roche Holding (8,56%), UnitedHealth Group (8,41%), Vertex Pharmaceuticals (5,91%), Pfizer (5.81%) and Amgen (5.22%) among its highest positions. The minimum investment required to subscribe this fund is 2,000 dollars (approximately 1,697 euros), taxing its participants with a fixed commission of 1.8% and a deposit of 0.5%.

Denominated in euros, Bellevue Funds (Lux) – BB Adamant Medtech & Services it revalues ​​4.6% at one year in its class B in euros, registering a volatility of 19% in the same period. Select your assets from the entire universe of the health sector, but excluding drug manufacturers. It is a suitable alternative for investors who want to benefit from the excellent fundamentals that the healthcare market offers, but who do not want to have exposure to the most volatile subsector of drug manufacturers, which is very sensitive to patent and research and development related processes.

Actions of Abbott Laboratories (8,74%), Medtronic (6,32%), Danaher (6,07%), Becton Dickinson and Co (5.13%) and Boston Scientific (5%) represent the largest positions in the fund’s portfolio. It applies to its participants a fixed commission of 1.6% and a deposit of 0.4%.

Opportunities by valuation

In the biotechnology category, the highest rated fund (five stars from VDOS) and most profitable in the year is Polar Capital Biotechnology with a revaluation of 7.3% in its R distribution class in euros and 28.7% in the last year, a period in which it registered a volatility of 27.6%. Invest in companies that offer a Growth at Reasonable Prices (GARP) profile.

The management team seeks to identify catalysts that may come in the form of clinical data, regulatory decisions, intercompany alliances, or quarterly sales of traded assets. Its five largest positions correspond to shares of Regeneron (6,7%), GEN-X BV (5%), Vertex Pharmaceuticals (5%), Incyte Corp (4.50%) and Exelixis (4%). Its fixed commission is 1.5% and that of deposit is 0.02%, also applying a variable commission of 10% on positive results between the fund and its benchmark, the Nasdaq Biotechnology.

In the same category, class U of capitalization in euros of Janus Henderson Global Life Sciences obtains a return of 1.5% in the year and 16.7% in one year, with a controlled volatility of 20.4%, which places it in the best group in its category for this concept, in the fifth quintile. The management team starts from a global approach to identify companies of high quality, or with growth potential within the life sciences sector and trading at levels below the market, in accordance with their intrinsic value estimate.

They believe that the rapid growth of the healthcare industry around the world offers great opportunities for a team that, like Janus Henderson’s, sets itself apart by the depth of its analysis and its commitment to providing superior results over the long term. Among its largest positions we find shares of Merck & Co (3,73%), UnitedHealth Group (3,54%), Novartis (3,31%), Abbvie (3.22%) and Thermo Fischer Scientific (3.16%). A minimum contribution of 2,500 euros is necessary to subscribe the U class of capitalization in euros of this fund, whose participants bear a fixed commission of 0.8%.

Comparative evolution of investment funds in the health sector.

Comparative evolution of investment funds in the health sector.


Despite the risks, the health sector seems to present excellent long-term expectations. The combination of longevity and technological advances should open a wide range of opportunities for companies in the sector – and provide healthy returns for patient investors.

*** Paula Mercado is Director of Analysis for VDOS.


Fixed income funds with a certain level of risk: the winners since January

Fixed Income Investors Seeking Profitability have had to change their point of view to achieve their goal. When the interest rate is close to zero there are not many easy opportunities to find. If you are looking to obtain a certain return, it is time to also assume a certain level of risk.

From the universe of fixed income funds available for marketing in Spain, a selection of 10 funds has been made which, with the highest five-star rating of VDOS, have obtained a higher profitability since last January.

In this group, the greatest presence corresponds to the category Global Fixed Income Convertibles, with four backgrounds. The most profitable is class A accumulation in euros of FRANKLIN GLOBAL CONVERTIBLE SECURITIES with a revaluation of 15.26% since last January 1.

At one year, its profitability is 21.23%, with a cost due to volatility of 19.01%. Take the index as a management reference Thomson Reuters UBS Global Focus Convertible. It seeks to optimize total return, in accordance with prudent investment management, trying to optimize capital appreciation and periodic income under variable market conditions.

To do this, it invests primarily in convertible securities (including low-rated, sub-investment grade, or unrated securities) of corporate issuers globally. You can also invest in other securities, such as common or preferred stocks and non-convertible debt securities.

Its largest positions include issues of RH (2,16%) WIXCOM LTD (2,12%) DOCUSIGN INC (2,01%) PINDUODUO INC (1,98%) y MICROCHIP TECHNOLOGY INC (1,92%). The subscription of the class A accumulation in euros of this fund requires a minimum initial contribution of 5,000 dollars (approximately 4,241 euros) applying a fixed commission of 0.75% and a deposit of 0.14%.

Of the Euro Public Debt category, the most profitable is class E capitalization in euros of AMUNDI S.F. – EURO CURVE 10+ YEAR obtaining a profitability of 8.47% until August 6. In the last year, it revalued 4.98%, registering a volatility figure of 11.31%.

To achieve capital appreciation in the medium and long term, it invests at least two thirds of its total assets in debt instruments denominated in euros, issued by States, local governments, supranational, municipal and corporate issuers and whose residual life is more than 10 years.

You can also invest up to 10% of your assets in convertibles, as well as up to 10% in equity-linked instruments. Among its greatest positions, we find the fund of the manager itself Amundi 3 M I (7.01%) and emissions from the Republic of Italy 2,95% (4,46%) Kingdom of Spain 1.2% (4,44%) Kingdom of Spain 1.25% (4.36%) and Republic of France 1.75% (3.56%). Its participants bear a fixed commission of 1.05% and a deposit of 0.50%.

Another of the categories with the greatest presence in the ranking is that of Fixed Income Euro Long Term that, by including assets with long-term maturity, they should reward their investors for the greater risk of interest rate fluctuations. The most profitable in this category so far this year is class A capitalization in euros of AXA WORLD FUNDS-EURO 10+LT with a revaluation of 8.14%.

Interest rates

Revaluation that at one year is 4.41% with a volatility of 11.17%. Referenced to the Citigroup Eurobig 10+ index, the objective is to seek profitability through dynamic exposure mainly to fixed income securities denominated in euros. To do this, it invests in a diversified portfolio of debt securities with investment grade rating, issued by governments, companies or public entities, mainly denominated in euros.

It is managed with an interest rate sensitivity that ranges between 9 and 18, with sensitivity being an indicator that measures the impact that a 1% variation in the official interest rate would have on the value of this class of the fund.

Their largest positions correspond to futures contracts on the Euro Buxl Future Sept 20 (11,47%) y Euro Bobl Future Sept 20 (7,28%) and to issues of Republic of France 4% (7.44%) Republic of France 1.75% (6.86%) and Republic of Italy 4% (6.22%). His fixed commission is 0.60%.

In the search for profitability in fixed income, long-term issues and convertibles are taking the lead. The long term for its offer of higher yields, in compensation for the greater risk assumed by the bondholder; convertibles due to their hybrid nature, halfway between fixed income and variable income.

Although in private debt we only find one example (CAPITAL GROUP US CORPORATE BOND FUND (LUX) B EUR) among the ‘top ten’, credit continues to be an option for fixed income portfolios, as long as you have the analytical skills for a correct selection, as is the case with fund managers.


Deka invests less in coal

Deka bank

“Coal is not an energy source of the future,” explains a spokesman for the Sparkassenfondhaus.

(Photo: dpa)

Frankfurt Deka says it will partially withdraw from coal investments on May 1. The Sparkassen-Fondshaus placed corresponding information on its website on Friday afternoon. “Coal is not an energy source of the future,” a spokesman told the Handelsblatt. Coal is considered an important emitter of greenhouse gases and therefore a driver of climate change.

According to the Deka spokesman, future sales thresholds will apply to retail funds aimed at private investors. Mining companies would be excluded if they generated more than 30 percent of their coal sales.

A hurdle of 40 percent applies to energy producers. According to the environmental organization Urgewalt, large companies will no longer be considered for investments with these limits: the Indian NTPC, the Swiss one Glencore or the Chinese huaneng. Even stricter rules should apply to pure Deka sustainability funds.

According to the spokesman, coal miners are completely excluded from this, companies from the power generation sector from a sales threshold of ten percent. The coal approach is part of overarching sustainability strategies that seem to deliver superior returns from an investor perspective.

Different approaches to competition

The other three large German fund houses are taking different approaches on the subject, as inquiries from the Handelsblatt revealed. Union Investment tightened its approach in mid-February, as a spokesman for the fund provider of the cooperative banking group explains.

Coal miners would be excluded from a certain share of coal in total sales. This threshold has been reduced from 30 to five percent, and will be zero in 2025. According to industry estimates, there are around a dozen large companies in this field such as Glencore or Anglo American.

According to Union Investment spokesman, the electricity generators are also affected by coal. Discussions with companies currently underway should clarify to what extent the addresses pursued a credible strategy for the transition to a climate-neutral world. The spokesman says: “If we are not convinced of this, we will exclude companies with a coal share of more than 25 percent of sales.”

At the Deutsche Bank fund house DWS “there are no exclusions in classic funds,” says a spokesman. This is different with those products that are explicitly looked after from a sustainability perspective.

Here a sales share threshold of 25 percent applies. Companies above it would be excluded. The DWS representative gave one reason for deciding not to exclude classic funds: “If we are out as an investor, we can no longer exert any influence on the company.”

Allianz global Investors acts in a similar way to DWS and defines sales thresholds in its sustainability funds as a starting point for a possible exclusion.

The environmental organization Urgewald welcomes the changes at both Deka and Union Investment. However, her spokeswoman Kathrin Petz restricts that there remains a major shortcoming: “With their new guidelines, both can retain RWE as Europe’s largest coal-fired power plant operator and one of the largest lignite producers worldwide.”

More: Investors are also demanding sustainable strategies from companies in the corona crisis.


Million dollar bonuses for Goldman bankers drive shareholder advisors onto the barricades

Boston, New York The influential voting rights advisor ISS stands against the millions of bonuses for Goldman Sachs boss David Solomon and other top managers of the bank. Goldman Sachs ISS increased the bonus for CEO Solomon sharply, although some important key figures would have deteriorated in 2019 compared to the previous year, ISS criticized in a Reuters report on the night of Friday.

Solomon earned nearly $ 25 million in 2019. ISS recommended that shareholders vote against the salary package at the Annual General Meeting next Thursday. The shareholders’ vote is only of an advisory nature and is therefore not binding. Many funds and large investors follow the recommendations of voting rights advisers such as ISS and Glass Lewis.

Solomon succeeded Lloyd Blankfein at the top of Goldman Sachs in October 2018 and was able to look forward to a substantial salary increase in 2019. He collected a total of $ 24.7 million, of which 7.65 million were bonus payments. Solomon thus received 19 percent more money than in the previous year, although the investment bank’s profit plummeted 19 percent to $ 8.47 billion.

However, the highest-paid US banker remained long-time JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon in 2019, who received $ 31.5 million after a record profit from the bank – 1.6 percent more than in the previous year.

A Goldman Sachs spokesman defended the salaries for top managers around Solomon. Goldman rewards long-term growth and does not place undue emphasis on short-term results. Income for 2019 reflected the significant long-term success of the top management.

More: How the corona crisis will weigh on US banks’ businesses.


Infrastructure funds can be a good alternative

Wind farm in Thuringia

Investors should look closely at which companies invest funds. This could be companies from the wind energy sector.

(Photo: dpa)

Frankfurt They still exist, the boring investments that deliver their returns even in times of crisis. Certainly not 20 percent can be achieved with it, as with shares in good years. But they already achieve an average return of four to five percent. This applies to infrastructure funds, for example, which can be an interesting alternative to stocks for private investors and ensure stable earnings.

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Corona crisis reveals deficits in German asset managers

Frankfurt skyline

Asset managers face severe losses from the consequences of the corona crisis.

(Photo: Reuters)

Frankfurt In the past decade, the framework conditions for asset management have been downright paradisiacal. In the “Goldilocks” scenario – where the conditions are fairytale-like – the stock markets hurried to new records, wealth continued to grow, and interest rates close to zero fueled the boom. With the corona pandemic, the brakes came on.

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Short ETF speculation is tricky

Bull and bear on the edge of a crumbling cliff

To bet on price losses on the stock exchanges is only worthwhile in the short term.

(Photo: imago images / Ikon Images)

Equities, oil, gold – a look at the fund balance sheet for the first quarter shows that the bottom line is that investors have lost a lot of money in most asset classes. Investors who bet on falling prices have made money, but these bets are tricky.

So-called short ETFs are one way of speculating on falling prices from indices. These exchange-traded index funds reflect the opposite percentage development of indices.

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How the corona crisis affects open-ended real estate funds

Erfurt Claus 2020 has big plans for 2020. The managing director of BNP Paribas REIM in Germany – the real estate investment arm of the French major bank – plans to launch an open real estate fund.

With this, the investment manager, whose real estate expertise in Germany has so far been reserved primarily for wealthy and institutional investors, also wants to enter the market for retail funds.

Or rather: wanted. According to the original plan, the fund should start selling at the beginning of April. But then Corona came and everything for Thomas’ plans was different than expected. “We have now postponed the start of our new mutual fund to June 2020,” he says.

The virus pandemic not only keeps the economy under control, but also the capital markets. If retailers and hoteliers today apply for deferral of rental payments to bridge their slump in sales as a result of the prescribed standstill, sooner or later investors in open-ended real estate funds will also be affected. Through the funds, they are indirectly the landlords of the industries concerned.

Corona crisis different from financial crisis

The situation brings back memories of the financial crisis, when real estate values ​​had to be corrected and funds closed because too many investors wanted their money at once. Experts also expect returns from the funds to decline as a result of Corona. Nevertheless, the situation today is different from that in the financial crisis.

At that time, the epicenter of the financial crisis was in the real estate sector. High-risk real estate loans failed, the nervousness spread rapidly to other real estate classes. In droves, investors withdrew funds from the open real estate funds.


Because they didn’t have enough liquidity buffers to earn all the claims, they were frozen. The funds bought time to monetize their properties. In general panic and under great time pressure, they sometimes made considerable losses, which ultimately also had to cope with the investors.

Today, there is no high-risk real estate loan at the beginning of the economic crisis, but a virus. “What we know from previous financial crises is that the spillover effects become more apparent the closer they are to the cause,” explains Steffen Sebastian, professor of real estate finance at the Ireb Real Estate Academy in Regensburg. However, the real estate is not in a crisis of confidence today.

In the corona crisis, retailers and hoteliers ask for rent deferrals because they are not allowed to open their shops and break down sales – and not because they have encountered problems due to a previously miserable business situation. For many companies, it is a stress test.

“Tenants from the hotel and retail sector have informed us that they want to negotiate their rental payments with us,” says Esteban de Lope, Managing Director of Deka Immobilien. The fund house is not alone in this. The other large providers from Commerz Real to DWS to Union Investment Real Estate also report on corresponding inquiries.

In the interests of investors

This puts the funds in a delicate position: On the one hand, they have an interest in keeping long-term leases – and thus secure income – in the funds and helping their tenants with a temporary solution.

On the other hand, they have to work for their customers, the investors. “We are committed to our investors and therefore do not grant flat-rate deferrals or rent reductions,” said a spokesman for Union Investment Real Estate. In plain language: deferrals remain individual decisions.

If rents are deferred, only the time of payment is postponed. They still have to be paid. But: “There could also be rent losses or rent adjustments here,” says Sonja Knorr, real estate fund analyst at the rating agency Scope.

The funds are also aware of the consequences: “Overall, it can be expected that the rental income of the funds will decline this year,” says de Lope from Deka. No fund manager can and does not yet estimate the extent of the decline.


Investors are not entitled to immediate notification of deferral or loss of rent: “There are no ad hoc notification requirements for open-ended real estate funds. If the fund defers rents or even loses rents, it does not have to notify it immediately. This is enough in the quarterly notifications to investors, ”explains Carola Rathke, partner at the business law firm Eversheds Sutherland in Germany.

Some providers already confirm revaluations. A spokesman for Commerz Real, for example, reports that in the first three months of this year objects dominated by retail were devalued by the experts.

But this also includes: The problems in the trade already existed before Corona, they have now been exacerbated by the crisis. At the same time, Commerz Real emphasizes: “At the moment, however, we are not seeing any significant effects on the management of our properties.” The provider calculates the fund’s return at 2.0 to 2.5 percent, roughly on the previous year’s level.

Loss of yield

Analysts remain more skeptical about the outlook. Rüdiger Sälzle, head of the fund analysis firm Fonds Consult, expects yields to fall by 50 to 100 basis points due to the corona crisis.

“On average, I expect a return of 1.5 to two percent,” says Sälzle. That was calculated conservatively, but manageable in view of the general conditions. The drop in rental income is likely to be felt initially, alongside property valuation and interest on liquidity, one of the return components of the funds. Where new contracts are due and the new rents are significantly lower than the previous ones, this will also lead to devaluations for real estate, says Sälzle.

The bottom line, from today’s perspective, returns remain in the positive range. This speaks in a market environment with highly volatile and sometimes sharply declining stock and bond markets for real estate. Morningstar analysts are already showing that European investors are drawing more capital from equity, bond and mixed funds than ever before.


There are still no official data for the real estate funds. Those of the BVI fund association for the first quarter will not be published until May. Scope analyst Knorr recognizes investment reluctance. “But we cannot see any waves of sales.”

The funds themselves report positive inflows in the first quarter. Commerz Real’s house investment has recorded inflows of 470 million euros since the beginning of the year. “The announcements of returns are still in the single-digit million range,” said a spokesman.

Union Investment Real Estate, whose funds UniImmo Germany and UniImmo Europe are among the largest open mutual funds, also reports on return claims in the single-digit million range. A spokesman for DWS says there are still positive net inflows – ie investments less return requests – and “generally no significantly increased return requests”.

Longer holding periods

In order to prevent a sudden, massive withdrawal of capital, which caused the funds to plummet during the financial crisis, stricter regulations apply anyway. Since 2013 it has been said that anyone who buys an open-ended real estate fund must hold it for at least two years.

Anyone wishing to redeem their shares can only do so with a notice period of one year. The illusion of a completely liquid trade in an illiquid product such as real estate was taken away from investors. Because when the going gets tough, the financial crisis showed, the funds have to sell their assets – and that is far more difficult than trading a stock package on the stock exchanges.

However, there is one exception for investors who bought their shares before 2013: they can withdraw up to EUR 30,000 from the fund every six months. “Today, however, the funds have sufficient liquidity to service these claims,” ​​says analyst Knorr, drawing attention to another difference to the financial crisis. The average liquidity ratio is 20 percent of the fund’s assets. 50 percent must be invested in real estate.

Debt financing is also more conservative today than in the financial crisis, says Knorr. Before the financial crisis, the average was 28.6 percent, today it is 15.1 percent. Some funds even had quotas of more than 40 percent.

With this credit lever, earnings could be increased in good times. This also applies reciprocally to the losses. “Today, a debt ratio of up to 30 percent is required by law. This is very conservative for real estate transactions, ”explains Knorr.

If funds fall below threshold values, for example that less than 50 percent of the fund’s assets are held in real estate, the capital management company must inform Bafin, who acts as the supervisory authority, explains Martina Sradj, partner of Eversheds Sutherland in Germany.

Private investors among themselves

Another stability factor: up to the financial crisis, semi-professional and institutional investors were invested in open real estate funds to a much greater extent than today. “Funds of funds or asset managers were very quick to return their shares at the time,” says Knorr. Today, these actors are not prohibited from investing in open-ended real estate funds. However, a wide range of alternative products has only developed for institutional investors in recent years, which is usually also cheaper.

The proportion of institutional investors in open-ended funds cannot be clearly quantified, but is significantly below the level of the financial crisis. Real estate funds of funds have disappeared from the market for private investors, explains Knorr.

The lawyer Rathke from Eversheds Sutherland adds: “Today, institutional and semi-professional investors are not directly prohibited from investing in open-ended real estate funds. However, there are strict requirements in terms of tax law, so that an investment in the open products is generally excluded. “

If people in countries like Germany, Austria or the USA are talking about relaxing the corona restrictions when shops are allowed to open again, then this should also make things easier for investors in open real estate funds. However, these measures are not a guarantee of a return to normalcy. This also applies to the real estate world. Sälzle, for example, points out the so-called second-round effects: “How the corona crisis will affect the real estate segment in the medium to long term is still completely open,” says the analyst. So the world is today in the “largest joint field trial in the home office”.

In the future, people will return to their normal jobs. But the office world doesn’t have to be the same. “The structure of the office space will change in the medium term. In the future, less space could be rented and employees could be given more flexibility in dealing with their home office, ”says Sälzle. What that means for the funds as a landlord is not yet clear.

Claus Thomas of BNP Paribas REIM, whose fund is due to launch this year, is not worried by this. He already has several objects in sight for sale, including a hotel in Munich. Although hotels in Corona are under particular pressure, he still assumes that use will develop above average in the long term, says Thomas. His fund should also focus on megatrends such as digitization and also invest in healthcare properties – two areas that could well benefit from the corona crisis.

More: Where investors can still find returns in times of the corona crisis


Karstadt owner Benko sells 17 properties to funds

Dusseldorf The Signa-Holding des Austrian investor René Benko sells 17 properties from the ailing chain of department stores Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof. The buyers are funds from the financial investor Apollo EPF.

According to the Bloomberg news agency, the purchase price is around 700 million euros. A Signa spokesman declined to comment on Friday. The transaction was already registered with the Federal Cartel Office for review at the end of March. The competition keepers have released the sale.


Alternative Investments: Return in Corona Times: How to Make Money Now

Fluctuations on the stock exchanges are extreme due to the Covid 19 pandemic. But there is a way out: alternative investments. The Handelsblatt presents them. .