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Hargreaves banks on Lloyds with new income fund

Hargreaves banks on Lloyds with new income fund

by Daniel Grote Mar 27, 2017 at 13:15

Hargreaves Lansdown has placed its faith in rising dividends from Lloyds (LLOY) as the online stockbroker revealed the portfolio of its newly-launched HL Select UK Income Shares fund.

Lloyds has made it into the top five of the fund, managed by Steve Clayton and Charlie Huggins, and is the only bank in the portfolio.

'Lloyds is distributing a big slice of its earnings these days and generating a lot of capital, which earns it a place in the fund,' said Clayton.

Lloyds shares currently yield 3.8%, after the bank consolidated its income credentials following a return to dividend payments with a token 0.75p payout for 2014.

That was followed by 2015's 2.75p payout, including special dividends, and a 3.05p total payout for 2016, also including a half-a-penny special.

'Lloyds, especially the former Halifax Bank of Scotland component of the group, is a lot less racy these days but we prefer the dependability of a retail bank that sticks to its knitting, keeps a strong balance sheet and diverts excess cash back to shareholders,' said the managers.

'Having cut costs enormously following the Halifax Bank of Scotland merger, Lloyds now has an industry-leading level of efficiency, which helps to support profit margins and cash generation, further reinforcing its attraction.'

But the managers have not been lured into rival banks. 'With the exception of Lloyds, major banks are absent from the portfolio,' said Huggins. 'Lloyds is a simpler, leaner bank nowadays, but the other major players in the industry still have much more restructuring to do,' he said.

'We would rather own specialist financial services players, such as Close Brothers (CBRO) and Provident Financial (PFG), which are both highly profitable.'

Faith in brands

Consumer goods companies make up a big portion of the fund, with Unilever (ULVR) the top holding, cigarette maker Imperial Brands (IMB) the second and drinks company Diageo (DGE) also making it into the top 10.

'These companies sell branded products to millions of customers worldwide, each and every single day,' said Clayton (pictured). 'Their historic track records of delivering reliable growth in profits and dividends speak volumes.'

Pharmaceutical stocks are also a strong feature, with top 10 holdings in GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and AstraZeneca (AZN).

'These are not without risk, for launching new drugs requires huge investments in clinical trials and lab work, with no guarantees,' said Clayton.

'Both have the potential to offer well above average yields and could be big contributors to the fund's income in the years ahead.'

The fund's highest yielding stocks are insurers Legal and General (LGEN) on 5.8%, and Standard Life (SL) on 5.6%.

But the managers have resisted the high yields on offer from the oil majors and house builders. 'BP (BP) and Shell (RDSb) have gone to great efforts to maintain their dividends, but oil prices are still a fraction of what they were, and seemingly under renewed pressure,' said Huggins.

'There may come a time when commodity producers manage to get their costs down to a level where cash generation will be robust, but for now, we'd rather not take the risk of their dividends proving unsustainable.'

He added that while yields on house builders were currently high they were 'predicated on housing market conditions remaining favourable'.

The managers are targeting income of 3.9p per unit in the fund's first year, equating to 3.9% yield on the 100p issue price.

Ten of the fund's 25 disclosed holdings yielding more than this, while others currently yield less but the managers believe they have strong prospects for dividend growth.

Potential dividend growers include events company Ascential (ASCL), the fund's smallest disclosed holding, on a yield of just 1.5%.

'Ascential aims to pay out around a third of its earnings as dividends, which makes it one of the lower yielding stocks we own,' the managers said. 'However, analysts are expecting the dividend to grow strongly over the next few years.'

Hargreaves Lansdown raised £251 million for the fund, making it the second biggest fund launch ever for the online stock broker's platform.

The fund, which launched on 2 March, will pay monthly income. The first payment, anticipated to be 0.3p per unit, will be made on 30 April.

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Comments  (1)

  • david James Martin: 

    Can you only buy this fund thru HL

    13:53 on 27 March 2017

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