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SICAV

Asian ex-Japan Equity Fund

A diversified fund, with a focus on sustainable growth.

ISIN LU0266341725 Bloomberg TRPAXJI:LX

3YR Return Annualised
(View Total Returns)

Total Assets
(USD)

4.18%
$599.3m

1YR Return
(View Total Returns)

Manager Tenure

6.80%
11yrs

Information Ratio
(5 Years)

Tracking Error
(5 Years)

0.64
3.37%

Inception Date 13-Dec-2006

Performance figures calculated in USD

Other Literature

31-May-2020 - Anh Lu, Portfolio Manager,
We remain constructive on the long-term outlook for Asia ex-Japan although recovery from the disruption brought about by the coronavirus pandemic may be a gradual process. We believe that our long-term investment focus that entails searching for companies with the potential for sustainable growth even under adverse conditions will help us to weather some of the stress and disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic and increased geopolitical risks.
Anh Lu
Anh Lu, Portfolio Manager

Anh Lu is a portfolio manager in the Equity Division of T. Rowe Price Hong Kong Limited. Ms. Lu is the lead portfolio manager for the Asia ex-Japan Equity Strategy. She is a vice president of T. Rowe Price Group, Inc. and T. Rowe Price Hong Kong Limited.

Click for Manager Outlook
 

Strategy

Manager's Outlook

We remain constructive on the outlook for Asia ex-Japan equities and believe that the portfolio's long-term investment focus will help it to weather the near-term market stress brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. While it is difficult to predict where markets will find their bottom and when the virus will abate, we think there is value to be recognized in many good businesses should global economic activity gradually normalize over the next six to 12 months.

Understanding how markets and businesses will play out once the coronavirus pandemic has passed holds more importance to us than being able to call the bottom of the market in the near term. Downward earnings revisions are expected to be most severe in 2020. Depending on the business, we assume either a strong rebound in 2021, or in other cases a very gradual recovery.�We recognize that the current environment presents a challenge to earnings forecasts for 2020 and 2021 as they hinge on the length of time the world stays in very low-activity mode.

We believe recovery may turn out to be a gradual process, with demand remaining muted for some time since the coronavirus outbreak has throttled travel, work, and commerce. The longer that economies remain shut down or in low-activity mode, the lower the likelihood of a V-shaped recovery. While the near-term outlook is highly uncertain, the significant monetary and fiscal measures that have been put in place to stem the impact of the virus provide encouragement.

We believe that there will be certain structural changes within countries and industries as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The likelihood of behavioral changes will depend on the magnitude of the outbreak and the pace at which market/business conditions return to normal thereafter. If the containment of the virus becomes prolonged and the situations within countries become more dire, there is a heightened chance that behavioral patterns will be altered beyond just one or two quarters.

India and ASEAN-member countries may face higher risks of market disruption, as equities in their markets have been hit especially hard, exacerbated by the low visibility of damage from the coronavirus. We are leaning into the attractive valuations in these markets, but in a very measured manner for now.

Against the backdrop of market volatility, the portfolio aims to identify companies that are leaders in their industry and able to gain market share in their sectors under adverse conditions. We seek companies that have a strong capital structure that can help them to weather a potentially prolonged downturn in business activity.

As long-term oriented investors with bottom-up fundamental research ingrained in our process, we view the current market environment as an opportunity to discover companies that are able to navigate this period of market strain, hence, improving the quality of the portfolio.

We believe our long-term case for investing in Asia still holds good given the growth potential of the region and the companies within, buttressed by China's economic transformation story and the strength of consumer demand in the region.

Investment Objective

To increase the value of its shares, over the long term, through growth in the value of its investments. The fund invests mainly in a diversified portfolio of stocks of companies in Asia (excluding Japan).

Investment Approach

  • Employ fundamental analysis to identify companies with sustainable above-market earnings growth rates.
  • Focus on franchise strength, management team quality, free cash flow, and financing/balance sheet structure.
  • Verify relative valuation appeal versus both local market and region.
  • Apply negative screening for macroeconomic and political factors to temper bottom-up enthusiasm for specific securities.

Portfolio Construction

  • 80-120 stock portfolio
  • Individual positions typically range from 0.40% to 5.00% - average position size of 1.00%
  • Country and sector weightings a residual of stock selection. Significant deviations expected.
  • Reserves range from 0% to 10%, but typically less than 5%

Performance (Class I)

Annualised Performance

  1 YR 3 YR
Annualised
5 YR
Annualised
10 YR
Annualised
Since Manager Inception
Annualised
Fund % 6.80% 4.18% 4.12% 6.21% 8.11%
Indicative Benchmark % 0.01% 1.40% 1.97% 5.24% 6.47%
Excess Return % 6.79% 2.78% 2.15% 0.97% 1.64%

Inception Date 13-Dec-2006

Manager Inception Date 31-May-2009

Indicative Benchmark: MSCI All Country Asia ex Japan Index Net

Data as of  31-May-2020

Performance figures calculated in USD

  1 YR 3 YR
Annualised
5 YR
Annualised
10 YR
Annualised
Fund % -8.23% 3.43% 2.72% 4.76%
Indicative Benchmark % -13.44% 1.06% 1.34% 3.77%
Excess Return % 5.21% 2.37% 1.38% 0.99%

Inception Date 13-Dec-2006

Indicative Benchmark: MSCI All Country Asia ex Japan Index Net

Data as of  31-Mar-2020

Performance figures calculated in USD

Recent Performance

  Month to DateData as of 02-Jul-2020 Quarter to DateData as of 02-Jul-2020 Year to DateData as of 02-Jul-2020 1 MonthData as of 31-May-2020 3 MonthsData as of 31-May-2020
Fund % 2.68% 2.68% 2.05% -0.92% -2.59%
Indicative Benchmark % 2.96% 2.96% -1.92% -1.16% -5.29%
Excess Return % -0.28% -0.28% 3.97% 0.24% 2.70%

Inception Date 13-Dec-2006

Indicative Benchmark: MSCI All Country Asia ex Japan Index Net

Indicative Benchmark: MSCI All Country Asia ex Japan Index Net

Performance figures calculated in USD

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.  Source for fund performance: T. Rowe Price. Fund performance is calculated using the official NAV with dividends reinvested, if any. The value of an investment and any income from it can go down as well as up. Investors may get back less than the amount invested. It will be affected by changes in the exchange rate between the base currency of the fund and the subscription currency, if different. Sales charges (up to a maximum of 5% for the A Class), taxes and other locally applied costs have not been deducted and if applicable, they will reduce the performance figures. 

Where the base currency of the fund differs from the share class currency, exchange rate movements may affect returns.

Index returns shown with reinvestment of dividends after the deduction of withholding taxes. 

Effective 1 July 2018, the "net" version of the indicative benchmark replaced the "gross" version of the indicative benchmark. The "net" version of the indicative benchmark assumes the reinvestment of dividends after the deduction of withholding taxes applicable to the country where the dividend is paid; as such, the returns of the new benchmark are more representative of the returns experienced by investors in foreign issuers. Historical benchmark performance has been restated accordingly. 

31-May-2020 - Anh Lu, Portfolio Manager,
Most Asia ex-Japan equity markets fell in May due to rising geopolitical risks as friction between the U.S. and China intensified. China’s equity market retreated but within the portfolio our stock selection here was by far the biggest positive contributor to relative outperformance. Owning consumer staples such as Yixintang Pharmaceutical boosted relative returns the most. Shares of the drug retail chain rose following the launch of the company’s first share incentive scheme, perceived by the market as an improvement in governance. Our position in Jiajiayue, a food retailer with a focus on fresh products, contributed further to the outperformance. Jiajiayue benefitted from the coronavirus outbreak as same-store-sales growth in the first quarter significantly exceeded the market. In contrast, stock selection in India, particularly in financials such as Shriram Transport and Kotak Mahindra Bank (KMB), hampered returns. The extended national lockdown due to the pandemic took a toll on businesses and individual incomes, while other measures, such as the extension of the moratorium on loan repayments pressured banks. However, Shriram has put in place liquidity buffers over the past 12-18 months. KMB, on the other hand, has a massive capital cushion that will allow it to weather coronavirus--related stress.

Holdings

Total
Holdings
83
Largest Holding Tencent Holdings 8.61% Was (31-Dec-2019) 7.57%
Other View Full Holdings Quarterly data as of 31-Mar-2020
Top 10 Holdings 44.48% View Top 10 Holdings Monthly data as of 31-May-2020

Largest Top Contributor^

Tencent Holdings
By 6.24%
% of fund 8.53%

Largest Top Detractor^

Alibaba Group Holding
By -1.20%
% of fund 8.73%

^Absolute

Quarterly Data as of 31-Mar-2020

Top Purchase

Chailease Holding (N)
1.41%
Was (31-Dec-2019) 0.00%

Top Sale

Sinopharm (E)
0.00%
Was (31-Dec-2019) 1.14%

Quarterly Data as of 31-Mar-2020

31-Mar-2020 - Anh Lu, Portfolio Manager,

During the quarter, we took advantage of the market dislocation to add to our high-conviction holdings as well as to establish a few new positions in better-quality companies that we found expensive prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

Against the backdrop of market volatility, we aimed to identify companies that may emerge from the crisis in a stronger position. These tend to be companies that are leaders in their industry and continue to gain share in their sectors under adverse market conditions. We also looked at companies that have a strong capital structure that can�help them to weather a potentially prolonged downturn in business activity. When we see certain companies with some debt but very stable cash flow streams and if these companies trade on distressed valuations, we take such selected risk.

In terms of positioning, we focus on the longer term and assess on what the post-coronavirus world may look like, balancing the risks/rewards in that light. We think this period of market stress will result in consolidation within many industries and our intention is to identify those that will emerge as the main beneficiaries and establish positions in these companies at attractive valuations.

China remained our largest country position while from a sector perspective, consumer staples was our biggest relative overweight as a result of our bottom-up stock selection process.

We Reduced Our Underweight Allocation to Taiwan

In the quarter, we sought to analyse the impact of the enormous stimulus packages announced by policy makers and their impact on various sectors. We think that investments in technology infrastructure will gain from these stimulus measures and technology companies will likely be beneficiaries.

In Taiwan, we initiated a position in Taiwan Union Technology, a maker of copper-clad laminates, which we think will benefit from our expected growth in data center demand. Taiwan Semiconductor, one of the world's largest contract chipmakers, also remains as one of our top portfolio positions. We continue to hold an off-benchmark position in Silergy, a Taiwan-listed designer and maker of a broad range of high-performance analog integrated circuits.

Outside of technology, we established a new position in Chailease, a well-run leasing company catering to small- and medium-sized enterprises. While the business is cyclical, we like its track record as it has been operating in Taiwan for over three decades and has weathered several major downturns. Its high return-on-equity through the cycle, driven by the high-quality and stable leasing franchise in Taiwan and growing China business, provided impetus for us to invest in the company. With its track record, we are confident that it has picked quality customers. Given its share price weakness, we deemed it good value to add this name to the portfolio.

China Overweight Reduced on Elimination of Select State-Owned Enterprises

In China, we trimmed our overweight allocation as we exited several names for stock-specific reasons and concerns about the impact of the coronavirus on state-owned enterprises (SOEs), as well as to give ourselves room to add higher quality stocks that have corrected to attractive levels.

We exited 3SBio as we found its management's execution lacking. The company, which had a good pipeline of drugs at its initial public offering, has disappointed us following management changes and the inability to push the pipeline into an approval process. We closed our position in Sinopharm Group and Beijing Enterprises amid concerns that these SOEs may be tapped for national service, such as asset injections or dividend cuts, that may not be beneficial to them. Sinopharm, China's largest and sole nationwide pharmaceutical distributor, weakened relative returns in the quarter. We believe that while Sinopharm will benefit from industry consolidation, its management execution had disappointed.

We sold our small position in AAC Technologies as the competitive environment for its acoustics business continues to be intense and its haptics business appears to be struggling. This move is also in line with our decision to reduce our exposure to the Apple supply chain, even before the coronavirus outbreak, on concerns about inventory in the first half of the year.

While we reduced our exposure to several SOEs, we initiated a position in Shandong Weigao, a Chinese maker of consumable medical products such as syringes and puncture needles along with orthopedic products. We view Shandong Weigao as an earnings compounder. We like its solid business fundamentals, attractive valuation and possible future catalysts, such as its plan to separately list the faster-growth orthopedics division in the A-share market, a potential asset injection, and improving free cash flow.

We also found opportunities in select Chinese transport infrastructure stocks with earnings recovery prospects and attractive valuations following the virus-induced market weakness, such as Shanghai International and Beijing Capital International Airport. While their short-term earnings will likely suffer, we think these companies should benefit from an eventual resumption in domestic and outbound travel growth and duty-free spending. We started investments in Trip.com, a Chinese online travel service provider, as we view its share price weakness as short term and think it may benefit from pent-up demand following the coronavirus outbreak's containment.

Allocation to Consumer Staples and Consumer Discretionary Enhanced

At the sector level, we moved more overweight consumer staples as we found opportunities in names whose valuations became more reasonable following the market weakness. For example, we started to invest in Budweiser Brewing, one of the largest pan-Asian brewers in terms of profit and revenues, given its more palatable valuations following its share price correction since the initial public offering. We like the company's track record in premium beer positioning and best-in-class margins.

We also took advantage of the market's weakness to establish positions in decent quality names such Godrej Consumer Products, one of India's largest listed fast-moving consumer good companies, and cash generative pan-Asian retailer Dairy Farm.

As we saw opportunities in travel names such as the previously mentioned Trip.com, we became more overweight to the consumer discretionary sector. In this space, we initiated positions in Galaxy Entertainment, one of Macau's casino operators that has a stronger balance sheet compared to its rivals and which may benefit from pent-up demand.

We also established a position in Haier Electronics, a maker of washing machines, water heaters and household refrigerators in China. We believe Haier is more defensive than its other Chinese rivals as the washing machine business is less related to the property cycle. Moreover, the coronavirus outbreak will likely usher in a pricing war and market consolidation may accelerate, benefiting leaders like Haier on the other side of the cycle.

We Reduced Our Overweight in Communication Services

In the communication services sector, we exited certain stocks where our conviction and thesis have waned or where growth prospects dimmed. For example, we eliminated China Unicom, an integrated mobile operator whose pace of revenue recovery was slower than our initial expectations. Our thesis of Unicom being a market share gainer weakened as we do not expect much differentiation in Unicom's 5G network service quality compared with its two other rivals.

We closed our position in NetEase, a Chinese online gaming company, on valuation grounds and more volatile earnings. We think it has hit a growth wall and that its margin recovery has been priced in by the market. While its 2020 game pipeline is solid and first-quarter mobile game revenue will likely benefit from the coronavirus outbreak, in the medium term the room for margin improvement is limited. At the end of the quarter, we trimmed our overweight in communication services.

We Moved to Better Quality Names in Health Care

Within the health care sector, we initiated positions in names we perceived to be of better quality in terms of product cycle and future growth prospects but eliminated select SOEs. At the end of March, we were more underweight in this sector.

We started to invest in companies we view as earnings compounders such as the previously discussed Shandong Weigao. We also established a position in Sino Biopharmaceutical, one of the highest-quality pharmaceutical companies in China with a strong sales team and an efficient research and development system. We believe the market is underestimating the speed of the company's transformation to an innovative drug firm and its capability to deliver new drugs to the market. We took the opportunity to invest in the company before it enters its next product cycle, which is expected to produce drugs that will drive sales growth in 2021 and 2022. As previously mentioned, we exited 3SBio and Sinopharm due to poor management execution.

Sectors

Total
Sectors
10
Largest Sector Consumer Discretionary 20.90% Was (30-Apr-2020) 20.64%
Other View complete Sector Diversification

Monthly Data as of 31-May-2020

Indicative Benchmark: MSCI All Country Asia ex Japan Index (unhedged)

Top Contributor^

Communication Services
Net Contribution 0.78%
Sector
0.14%
Selection 0.63%

Top Detractor^

Financials
Net Contribution -1.70%
Sector
0.07%
Selection
-1.77%

^Relative

Quarterly Data as of 31-Mar-2020

Largest Overweight

Consumer Staples
By7.98%
Fund 13.63%
Indicative Benchmark 5.65%

Largest Underweight

Materials
By-4.09%
Fund 0.00%
Indicative Benchmark 4.09%

Monthly Data as of 31-May-2020

31-May-2020 - Anh Lu, Portfolio Manager,
We continued to seek companies that may emerge from the coronavirus outbreak in a stronger position. For instance, we added to our holdings in a Singapore land transport company that has a healthy balance sheet and cashflow position which can help it to weather the weak near-term earnings outlook. We see an earnings recovery in 2021 once the coronavirus crisis recedes. As a result of this trade, we turned less underweight in industrial and business services and became slightly overweight Singapore.

Countries

Total
Countries
13
Largest Country China 47.68% Was (30-Apr-2020) 47.78%
Other View complete Country Diversification

Monthly Data as of 31-May-2020

Indicative Benchmark: MSCI All Country Asia ex Japan Index (unhedged)

Top Contributor^

South Korea
Net Contribution 0.93%
Country
0.10%
Selection 0.83%

Top Detractor^

India
Net Contribution -1.05%
Country
-0.27%
Selection
-0.77%

^Relative

Quarterly Data as of 31-Mar-2020

Largest Overweight

China
By3.58%
Fund 47.68%
Indicative Benchmark 44.10%

Largest Underweight

South Korea
By-4.10%
Fund 9.32%
Indicative Benchmark 13.42%

Monthly Data as of 31-May-2020

31-May-2020 - Anh Lu, Portfolio Manager,
We increased our underweight position in South Korea as we exited LG Chem following a fatal gas leak at its only chemical plant in India. The plant was then in the process of reopening after a coronavirus-related shutdown. The company is assessing possible causes of the incident. While the plant contributes less than 1% to group revenues, the potential penalties are presently difficult to estimate. China remains our biggest country position and in May we started to invest in a logistics services provider, which has ventured into the fast-growing express segment. We like its strong execution, undemanding valuation, and growth prospects.

Team (As of 02-Jul-2020)

Anh Lu

Anh Lu is a portfolio manager in the Equity Division of T. Rowe Price Hong Kong Limited. Ms. Lu is the lead portfolio manager for the Asia ex-Japan Equity Strategy. She is a vice president of T. Rowe Price Group, Inc. and T. Rowe Price Hong Kong Limited.

Ms. Lu has 24 years of investment experience, 18 of which have been with T. Rowe Price. Prior to joining the firm, she was a vice president of the Asia Pacific Technology Investment Banking Division of Salomon Smith Barney in Hong Kong. Before Salomon Smith Barney, Ms. Lu spent three years at LGT Asset Management as an analyst and portfolio manager.

Ms. Lu earned a B.A. with honours from the University of Western Ontario.

  • Fund manager
    since
    2009
  • Years at
    T. Rowe Price
    19
  • Years investment
    experience
    25
Nick Beecroft

Nicholas Beecroft is a portfolio specialist in the Equity Division at T. Rowe Price, representing the firm's global equity strategies. He is a vice president of T. Rowe Price Group, Inc. and T. Rowe Price International Ltd.

Mr. Beecroft has 18 years of investment experience, 14 of which have been with T. Rowe Price. He joined the firm in London in 2005 and spent many years working with our emerging markets equity team. Mr. Beecroft has been based in Hong Kong since 2011. Prior to joining T. Rowe Price, he was an investment analyst at Mercer Investment Consulting.

Mr. Beecroft earned a B.A, with honours, in contemporary European studies from the University of Southampton. He also has earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

  • Years at
    T. Rowe Price
    15
  • Years investment
    experience
    19
Kanwal Masood

Kanwal Masood is a portfolio specialist in the Equity Division at T. Rowe Price, covering the Middle East and Africa Equity and Emerging Europe Equity Strategies. She is an associate vice president of T. Rowe Price International Ltd.

Ms. Masood has 10 years of investment experience, all of which have been with T. Rowe Price. She joined the firm in 2007, covering the global and regional emerging market equity strategies as a portfolio analyst. Prior to joining T. Rowe Price, she was a product specialist at the London Stock Exchange.

Ms. Masood earned a B.Sc. with honours in mathematics and computer science from King's College London.

  • Years at
    T. Rowe Price
    13
  • Years investment
    experience
    13

Fee Schedule

Share Class Minimum Initial Investment and Holding Amount (USD) Minimum Subsequent Investment (USD) Minimum Redemption Amount (USD) Sales Charge (up to) Investment Management Fee (up to) Ongoing Charges
Class A $1,000 $100 $100 5.00% 160 basis points 1.72%
Class I $2,500,000 $100,000 $0 0.00% 75 basis points 1.09%
Class Q $1,000 $100 $100 0.00% 75 basis points 0.87%

Please note that the Ongoing Charges figure is inclusive of the Investment Management Fee and is charged per annum.

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GIPS® Information

T. Rowe Price ("TRP") claims compliance with the Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS®). TRP has been independently verified for the twenty one- year period ended June 30, 2017 by KPMG LLP. The verification report is available upon request. Verification assesses whether (1) the firm has complied with all the composite construction requirements of the GIPS standards on a firm-wide basis and (2) the firm's policies and procedures are designed to calculate and present performance in compliance with the GIPS standards. Verification does not ensure the accuracy of any specific composite presentation.

TRP is a U.S. investment management firm with various investment advisers registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, and other regulatory bodies in various countries and holds itself out as such to potential clients for GIPS purposes. TRP further defines itself under GIPS as a discretionary investment manager providing services primarily to institutional clients with regard to various mandates, which include U.S, international, and global strategies but excluding the services of the Private Asset Management group.

A complete list and description of all of the Firm's composites and/or a presentation that adheres to the GIPS® standards are available upon request. Additional information regarding the firm's policies and procedures for calculating and reporting performance results is available upon request

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