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Lazard leads the way in global infrastructure

Lex Hall  |  07 Jul 2020Text size  Decrease  Increase  |  
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If you’d put $10,000 in the Lazard Global Infrastructure (13457) this time a decade ago you’d be sitting on almost four times that.

The fund’s solid reputation is built on predictable earnings from investments in bread-and-butter holdings such as tolls roads, utilities and airport operators.

And while these asset classes have suffered in recent months because of the covid-19 shutdowns, it’s otherwise a rosy story.

Over the past decade the fund has posted a 14.22 per cent return, beating its S&P Global Infrastructure Index NR Hdg benchmark by almost 6 per cent.

This performance, plus the fund’s low management fee and talented team are among the reasons Morningstar has upgraded it to Gold.

The Lazard strategy has also outpaced other local infrastructure funds such as Magellan Infrastructure (15700), which is rated Silver.

Lazard Global Infrastructure (13457) v Magellan Infrastructure (15700) – Growth of $10,000

Lazard v Magellan

Source: Morningstar Premium

The five-man Lazard investment team is spearheaded by Warryn Robertson, who’s co-managed the strategy since its launch in 2005, with John Mulquiney.

The team also comprises London-based Bertrand Cliquet, who oversees European infrastructure companies, and Matthew Landy, who covers North America from New York.

Research analyst Anthony Rohrlach rounds out the five-person team

“Lazard Global Infrastructure’s best-in-class team and considered process make it a standout option in a competitive space,” says Morningstar analyst Edward Huynh.

“We now hold this strategy in higher regard as Morningstar’s enhanced ratings methodology has an increased emphasis on fees.”

The management fee is 0.90 per cent, which is in Morningstar’s second cheapest quintile for the category.  

If there’s one thing Robertson likes, it’s predictable earnings. And the Lazard infrastructure strategy typically seeks companies with monopoly characteristics, high revenue certainty, strong profitability, and long-life assets.

To achieve that, the fund has focused on the industrial and utility sectors, chiefly in the US and Western Europe.

The fund’s top two sectors weightings are Industrials (49.72 per cent) and Utilities (45.90 per cent). The rest of the holdings are split between Communication Services and Technology.

As of 31 May this year, the fund had 27 holdings. The top ten holdings, which include two Morningstar wide moat stocks, are:

Lazard Global Infrastructure Fund top ten holdings

 

Industrials

  • Ferrovial, a Spanish multinational company involved in the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of transport infrastructure and urban services.
  • CSX, a wide-moat American holding company focused on rail transportation and real estate in North America, among other industries.
  • Norfolk Southern Group, a wide-moat American railroad operator.
  • Vinci, one of the world’s largest investors in transport infrastructure. Significant concession assets include 4400km of toll roads in France and 45 airports across 12 countries, making Vinci the world’s second-largest airport operator in terms of managed passenger numbers.
  • Atlantia SpA, an Italian industrial company that primarily operates motorways and airports.

 

Utilities

  • National Grid, which owns and operates the electric and gas transmission system in England and Wales.
  • Terna, an electricity transmission system operator that owns virtually all of the Italian National Transmission Grid.
  • Snam SpA, an Italian natural gas infrastructure company.
  • United Utilities Group, primarily a holding company for United Utilities Water, the country's largest regulated water and wastewater utility, serving customers in northwest England, including Manchester and Liverpool.
  • Pennon Group PLC, a British water and environmental utility infrastructure company that operates primarily in the UK.

In the past year, Terna, National Grid and Ferrovial have posted gains of between 10 to 13 per cent.

Another standout is United Utilities, which has gained more than 18 per cent in the past year.

Atlantia has however been the laggard, down more than 36 per cent over in the same period, reflecting the devastating effect of the coronavirus on Italy, one of the hardest-hit countries.

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is content editor for Morningstar Australia

Any Morningstar ratings/recommendations contained in this report are based on the full research report available from Morningstar.

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