We do not see shares as pieces of paper or ticker symbols. To us, each “share” represents a fractional ownership of an underlying business. We approach the purchase of equity shares exactly how we would approach entering into a business transaction, with thought and with care, just like an owner would.
To maximise returns, we seek to buy good businesses at attractive prices. This means that we need to focus where others are not. Hence, we concentrate on investing in under-researched and undervalued equities of small and medium-sized UK companies that often fall under the radar of some larger funds.
Our fund, MI Sterling Select Companies Fund, was launched in 1963 (making it one of the oldest funds in the UK). Over the last 56 years, the Fund has delivered strong returns, using the same investment philosophy. What is surprising to us is that so few in our industry are willing to follow a time-tested recipe. This is not because they are not intelligent, but because patience is a virtue not everyone is gifted with.
We are not claiming to have reinvented the wheel and freely admit: our approach is not new. Outstanding investors such as Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch and Charlie Munger, among many others, have proven these principles work.
Trading is not our style – we do not buy companies with the intention of selling them once their share price has moved up by a few percentage points.
We buy a company if it passes our private market value test and has the potential to be a multi-bagger.
We like to run our winners; a few names that have been in the Portfolio for more than 10 years are: Churchill China, Dewhurst, Hill & Smith, Titon Holdings and Treatt. These holdings only confirm our style – we are long term, patient holders who believe in the power of compounding and have the mindset of an owner.
As the American poet Charles Bukowski once said: