- How did you determine your strategy?
We have a long history of investing for absolute returns
in the Australian market.
The Australian market is characterised by a traditional
long-only bias of investing. We believe that this has
created an opportunity for a long/short strategy to succeed.
Stocks with attractive investment characteristics tend
to outperform for long periods, while stocks with poor
valuations and management will still be owned by traditional
funds giving an opportunity to short.
The short to medium volatility and mispricing of individual
stock is high, providing opportunities for long short
- How do you execute the strategy?
Active management of the portfolio is key. A two-tier
approach is used. We determine an overall top-down view
on the global and domestic markets over the short and
medium term. The sector and market exposures of the portfolio
are determined by this macro outlook.
Fitting within this macro view of the world, we use a
stock selection process strongly biased to momentum factors.
Long stocks with good momentum factors and short stocks
with poor factors has been the key to our performance
over the last two years.
We concentrate on our skill base in local large cap stocks.
Liquidity constraints exist outside the top 100 - 150
stocks listed on the ASX therefore we invest within that
The fund targets Australian equities do you have
any plans to diversify where you trade?
Our initial plan is to invest where we believe are our
strengths in stock selection exist. This is the main reason
why our FUM target is conservative at $100 million.
Going forward we see an opportunity to expand into the
Pan-Asia region using a similar investment process
- Why are you confident all this will work?
We back tested our stock selection process from 1995
until 2002. The results demonstrated a clear outperformance
of the long portfolio over the short portfolio, over all
market conditions. Actual performance over the last two
years has supported this.
Therefore, given we can predict the most appropriate macro
style for the portfolio, our stock selection process will
generate real alpha in our funds over the short and medium
- What are your risk management measures?
We have strict controls over individual stock positions
within the portfolio. Each of the top two positions can
represent 10% of the Net Asset Value (NAV) of the Fund;
no other single position can represent more than 5% of
Maximum loss for any one stock and its derivative positions
cannot be greater than 5% of NAV of the Fund.
Total derivative time decay in any rolling 30-day period
is not to exceed 5% of NAV of the Fund.
Any exercises of long or short options positions must
not cause the maximum security holding limits to be exceeded.
Gross limit 150% long or 150% short NAV.
Net Limit 50% long or 50% short NAV
Where do you see the greatest risk to your performance?
As we have experienced recently, sector rotation periods
will be difficult for long/short managers. These tend
to be short term but particularly savage in nature.
We identified this as a possible risk and made adjustments
to our level of sector risk in our portfolios following
the interest rate cycle reversal in July this year.
- Can you tell us more about your quantitative method?
The V-EPS model is a structured process that ranks stocks
from within the ASX100. It is an exclusion model focusing
on three primary share price drivers
- Valuation - PEG
- Price Momentum - Weighted 1, 3 and 6 months
- Earnings Momentum - Weighted 1 to 3 months
Secondary Short Term Pricing Overlay eliminates short
term price trend reversals.
- How do you find Australia as the base for your fund?
Seeing 100% of your trading is in the ASX, do you think
it would be possible to reside anywhere else?
Australia was the appropriate place for us to establish
our business. We are close to the heart of our investment
Over the last five years the costs of setting up here
have fallen considerably, and there is a strong network
of service providers willing to back start-up funds.
UBS Hedge Fund Services based in Sydney is our prime
broker and have been very supportive during our start-up
The major problem we have experienced so far is getting
the support of local wholsale investors. The Sydney-based
BT Financial Group awarded St Helens a mandate earlier
this year out of their Total Return Fund. They have been
one of the only local fund of funds willing to back local
managers at an early stage. They have been rewarded with
good performance from those managers.
- What themes for both the long and short books do you
find interesting right now?
Obviously after two years of clear advantage for long/short
funds, the rotation into growth out of value has caused
headaches. Previously long-term underperforming shorts
have seen a sharp turnaround in share price in anticipation
of improved earnings next year.
Becoming comfortable with running portfolios that are
almost a mirror image of last years' winners is a big
challenge for a manager.
We now have a strong bias to being long growth stocks
and short banks and property trusts in our portfolios.
- Sars saw a drop off in business universe worldwide.
Have you noticed a return to business as usual? If not,
Australian stocks as a whole suffered very little from
the impact of Sars, in comparison with their Asian counterparts.
Everyone here seemed to be very quick to forget the concerns.
We can see an increase in concerns of a new outbreak
as we approach the northern winter. However we see this
as more likely a media beat up which will be forgotten
quickly, hopefully providing us with investment opportunities.
- How have you found money raising in the last six months?
We have experienced terrific interest in our funds since
the beginning of the year from individual investors and
family offices based in Australia. This has been the focus
of our marketing since we began.
Going forward we will be establishing our SHC Long Short
Fund. The Fund, based outside of Australia, will provide
a vehicle for non-Australian based investors to gain access
to our investment process.
- Your assets under management have remained comparatively
small, is this intentional? How big will you allow yourselves
to grow to?
We have maintained a relatively conservative target of
$100 million for funds under management.
We believe that our clients' interests are best served
if we are focused on performance on a smaller FUM rather
than, like most funds growing FUM to an excessive level,
chasing management fee, which will most likely hinder
To maintain a successful business we will rely on returns
to receive performance fees.
- Where are you currently situating the fund to make
profits over the next few months?
Global growth turnaround will occur but will be slower
than expected to arrive.
From a top-down view we believe we will be in a relatively
low volatility period for the next year, similar to the
The market in Australia is still significantly overweight
banks and property trusts; these sectors will continue
to underperform as interest rates rise and the property
Over the next few months quantitative managers will begin
to show outperformance over traditional managers again
once the rotation filters through the models.
Surviving the difficult periods is the key to long-term
success as a long/short manager.