‘I’m borrowing £15m now – before Labour gets in’
Veteran fund manager Job Curtis tells Sam Brodbeck how he got it wrong on Provident Financial
The £1.5bn City of London was the first investment trust to raise its dividend for 50 consecutive years. Job Curtis, a self-confessed “conservative” fund manager, has been at the helm for 26 of those. He told Telegraph Money why he’s putting money into commercial property and how he wishes he could invest in Google. About 70pc of the fund is invested in FTSE 100 companies. I look for a combination of above-average dividend yield and dividend growth.
Funds tend to reflect their managers and I’m a fairly conservative person. We achieved this track record only by investing in consistent companies, and I wouldn’t change that. Using the investment trust structure we can retain up to 15pc of earnings in any one year to build up a reserve. We’ve had to use that reserve seven times in the 26 years I’ve been manager.
One company I have looked at in recent years is Alphabet, the owner of Google. It doesn’t pay a dividend and I might have bought it if I weren’t constrained by yield. It’s an amazingly strong franchise. interest rate of 2.9pc. We’re taking the view that we’ll beat that interest rate for the next 15 years. That’s a reflection of how low interest rates are. There’s less than a 50pc chance of getting a Labour government but if we did, given their plans, government bond yields would shoot up.
Probably real estate investment trusts. Land Securities, my biggest holding in that sector, is taking a very cautious view, and is on a 33pc discount to the value of the underlying assets. I do wonder if the pessimism is overdone.