Proprietary screens and a global network are used to identify niche, small-cap, and event driven opportunities in international markets.
A five-year track record of generating strong risk-adjusted returns driven by a unique and unconstrained investment strategy.
Thinley Wangchuk, Portfolio Manager, Managing Director
Thinley is a partner at Ashton Global and the lead portfolio manager for the Ashton Global International Small-Cap Fund via a sub-advisory relationship with Wangchuk Capital. Thinley has ten years of investment experience with expertise in small-cap stocks, arbitrage and special situations. He holds a degree in Management with a concentration in Finance from the University of British Columbia.
Why international stocks?
The Growing Case for International Investing
Current valuation levels make the traditional case for global investing much stronger. International stocks provide the benefits of diversification, and they also produce high returns on their own. The run-up in US stock prices means that foreign stocks are currently under-owned, relatively inexpensive, and likely to outperform. Finally, frontier markets provide unique opportunities to reproduce the past successes of the emerging markets.
It is possible to produce higher returns with lower risk through global diversification according to Lewis (1999). She showed that allocating 39% to international equities produced the lowest risk and higher returns than the S&P 500. New data is now available, but Vanguard continues to recommend international allocations of 40%. In actual practice, global investing improved performance when it mattered most. Between 2000 and 2010, US stocks had an average return of -1.82% per year. During that same decade, the emerging markets produced an average annual gain of 9.78%.
International stocks also produce returns that are competitive with US stocks. Between 1970 and 2010, global stock markets generated an average gain of 8.68% per year compared to 8.48% for domestic stocks. US stocks are on track to produce higher returns during this decade. Even with recent setbacks, international stocks still outperformed during three of the last five decades.
International Small-Cap Fund
Formed in December 2014, the International Small-Cap portfolio has a mandate to invest in public and private international equity markets, with a special focus on Asia. The portfolio specializes in finding attractive small-cap companies that are trading below adjusted book value, often in emerging and frontier markets. Additional alpha is created through unique special situations and private investments, mainly in Bhutan.
Thinley sources, originates, and invests in public equities and private equity and venture capital projects in Bhutan. Through his sophisticated network of contacts, he identifies investment opportunities that offer substantive appreciation, with modest downside risks. Thinley travels to Bhutan on a regular basis, monitoring investments and surveying the investment landscape. He also watches the few listed companies that are available on the Bhutan Stock Exchange and participates in rights offerings. Both public and private investments, along with a “go anywhere mandate”, have produced significant alpha for investors since inception.
Pockets of Value
The rise of China receives most of the attention from the media and investors, so valuations are generally lower elsewhere. For example, Vietnam’s relatively low stock prices have the potential to produce outperformance in the future. Although it is more difficult to find bargains in Asia today, value investing is exceptionally effective in emerging markets.
Floris de Groot found that country-level price-to-book ratios had a large and statistically significant effect in the emerging markets. According to de Groot, investing in emerging countries in the lowest price-to-book quartile produced a stunning 16.8% annual gain over the highest quartile between 1991 and 2014.
Bhutan – Investing in Asia’s Fastest Growing Economy
Since the 1980s, Bhutan’s economic growth has averaged roughly 8% annually. Driven by its proximity to India, and its rising middle class, the tourism, real estate, construction, and power, and financial services sectors in Bhutan have all grown rapidly.
Bhutan is located between India and China, and has aligned itself economically with India, Bhutan’s largest trading partner. The stock market is still in its infancy but has appreciated significantly over the last 12 months. We expect the supply and demand imbalance for local shares to continue to propel prices higher, although we believe some companies and sectors have become overvalued.
A More Inclusive Future Adds Opportunities for Alpha
New countries become part of international financial markets as the global economy expands, and they tend to outperform. Between 1987 and 2012, the emerging markets grew from less than 1% of the MSCI ACWI to more than 12%. China, India, and Russia were not even a part of the MSCI Emerging Markets Index at its inception. We also know that China is not going to be the next China. To reproduce those returns, international investors must look to the frontier markets.
An investor should consider the fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing or sending money. This and other important information about the fund can be found in the fund’s prospectus, or, if applicable, the summary prospectus. Any decision to invest in Ashton Global funds should be made on the basis of the current prospectus, which is available on request at email@example.com. Read the prospectus carefully before investing. All investing involves risk, including potential loss of principal. There is no guarantee that the fund will achieve its objective. Investing in emerging and frontier markets can involve risks such as having less publicly available information, higher volatility, and less liquidity than in the case of developed markets. Overweighting investments in certain sectors or industries increases the risk of loss due to general declines in the prices of stocks in those sectors or industries.