RIT’s decision to enlarge its exposure toward absolute return and credit, which now stands at 22%, has stood the group in good stead, delivering positive returns during a time of anaemic growth, weak demand and deflation in developed markets.
The investment trust’s holding in hedge fund Eisler Capital was particularly lucrative over the six-month period, accounting for 4.9% of the group’s total net asset value at £121.8m.
Because of these encouraging results, chairman Lord Rothschild, said absolute return and credit is going to be “an increasingly important contributor to overall returns” moving forward.
Contrastingly, RIT has distanced itself from quoted equities and sterling, both of which have been subject to volatile fluctuations after Brexit, and due to other unresolved political tensions.
As of 30 June 2016, quoted equities comprise 44% of the RIT portfolio, down from 55% at the end of December last year.
RIT’s sterling exposure was also significantly reduced to 34% from 47% and currently stands at just 25%.
The group also augmented its US dollar position from 63% to 57% in order to exploit opportunities in safe haven assets. RIT increased its exposure to gold and precious metals by 8% during the period.
Despite having to contend with challenging market conditions, RIT was able to reach a record £2.6bn in net assets.
Rothschild also declared a second interim dividend of 15.5p for a total dividend of 31p, a 3.3% increase from 2015. However, the trust’s NAV total return was only 3.6% compared with the MSCI All Country World index’s return of 6.1% over the same time frame.
The investment trust’s share price moved modestly following the release of its interim results, dipping by 0.28% to 1809p.
According to Rothschild, RIT’s asset allocation shake-up was necessary to reflect the continued geo-political uncertainty in the UK and globally.
“The six months under review have seen central bankers continuing what is surely the greatest experiment in monetary policy in the history of the world,” Rothschild explained. “We are therefore in uncharted waters and it is impossible to predict the unintended consequences of very low interest rates, with some 30% of global government debt at negative yields, combined with quantitative easing on a massive scale. In times like these, preservation of capital in real terms continues to be as important an objective as any in the management of your company’s assets.”