Keep in mind that our commentary on the fund, as well as its past performance, is not a guarantee of what will happen in the future. It is also not personal advice, so you should consider financial advice if you’re not sure.
Like all investments, your money is at risk – investments can go down as well as up, currency fluctuations can affect the value of your investment and you may not get back what you put in.
How the fund has performed
The Triodos Global Equities Fund achieved a return of 9.9% in the fourth quarter of 2023, outperforming its benchmark (the MSCI World Index). This was driven in part by a positive impact from currencies: the fund operates in Euros, and the US Dollar was 5% weaker than the Euro over this period. But it was also driven by the strong performance of investments which we’ve selected for the fund.
Most successful were the fund’s investments from within the industrials sector. The performance of fund investments within in the health care sector were also positive (although this sector in general did not keep up with the growth in equity markets). Plus, shares from companies linked to renewables rebounded in value over the last few months after very disappointing performance earlier in the year. Declining interest rates also lifted all shares in the sector.
As of 31/12/23
Triodos Global Equities Fund KR-cap
Triodos Global Equities Fund KR-dis
Calendar year return
Triodos Global Equities Fund KR-cap
Triodos Global Equities Fund KR-dis
You can find more performance figures, including a cumulative performance chart, on the Global Equities Impact Fund webpage.
Please remember that past performance isn't a guide to future returns.
Market developments within this period
In the fourth quarter of the year, many companies across the global equity markets saw their share prices increase as investors became increasingly convinced that inflation was under control and that central banks would start cutting interest rates soon. The Federal Reserve Board (the central bank of the United States) confirmed investors’ expectations in December, indicating that it expected rate cuts of 75 basis points (the metric used to gauge the change in interest rates) over 2024. Sizeable base effects also helped drive headline inflation down in October and November. This in turn calmed investors' nerves about the persistence of high interest rates.
Meanwhile, economic data shows a gradual slowdown of economic activity, but resilience in labour markets with employment levels remaining high. The global corporate earnings report for the third quarter was higher than expected, which also boosted investor confidence.
Stocks in focus
Here we’ve picked out some of the key investments that have made either a positive or negative contribution to the performance of the fund. We’ve also explained some of the ways these organisations are making a positive contribution to a more sustainable and inclusive future.
For a full list of investments, visit the What does the Global Equities Impact Fund invest in? webpage.
Investments that contributed to performance
Vestas is a Danish company which manufactures wind turbines for energy production. It is a global market leader in onshore wind (boasting a 30-35% market share – excluding China), but is increasingly focusing on offshore wind too. Vestas was one of the best performing companies with its shares gaining 41% in the fourth quarter. The company issued results and guidance that pleased investors, announcing good sales numbers and profit over the third quarter, plus several new orders from customers.
Sonova is a global leader in innovative hearing care solutions, producing hearing instruments and cochlear implants. This stock was a top performer in the Health Care sector with its shares gaining 31% in the fourth quarter of 2023. After a period of weak performance, investors anticipated weaker sales and profits, but the company issued a statement saying that it maintained its sales outlook but lowered the earnings forecast. The warning was less severe than feared and the shares rebounded.
Adyen is a Dutch payment company which offers a single, integrated platform that facilitates frictionless payments for merchants across channels and geographies. This company helps to promote financial inclusion by increasingly serving small- and medium-sized businesses.
This share was a top performer in the fund as share price increased by 65% in the fourth quarter of last year. After a decline in the share price in the third quarter, management heard the message from investors to be more transparent and to manage investor expectations. They organised an investor call where management outlined the strategy and set more realistic goals. In addition, they provided a positive update on their company performance in the third quarter.
Investments that detracted from performance
Cisco is a US company operating in the communications equipment industry, providing integrated solutions to develop and connect networks around the world. The company creates a positive impact by fostering innovation for sustainability through its products and services. In addition, the company is one of the biggest provider of cyber security solutions, thus enabling users to access the internet in a safe way.
While the company produced solid quarterly results, the share price took a hit when the order intake number reduced by 20%. This may be due to clients ordering too much in previous quarters when there were supply chain pressures, creating a surplus of products in their inventories. The company’s outlook for the year was down and analysts lowered earnings estimates with around 5%, but we remain positive on the longer term outlook.
Merck is a German science and technology company that produces prescription medicines involved in the treatments of a range of conditions and diseases. The company focuses on areas with a significant global disease burden. It also sells medicines for diseases identified as the top priorities for people living in low- and middle-income countries.
2023 has been tough for Merck and the shares are among the losers in the fund. This was driven by investors disinvesting in the Lifescience segment and weak demand in Semiconductors. The company’s expected earnings have been revised downwards accordingly during the year. However, we believe we around the bottom of the earnings downgrade cycle. There are indications that in both segments there will be a rebound in 2024 (for sales and margins). In addition, shares are cheap compared to its historical average. So, it’s one to watch closely - and if we don’t see improvement this year, we may reconsider the investment.
Darling Ingredients collects edible by-products and food waste, and then transforms them into a range of sustainable products and renewable energy. It avoids land fill and incineration by turning things which would go to waste into useful products that can be used for fertilisers, oils, medicine and fuel.
When we bought Darling last year, we knew it was not going to be a winner in 2023. When we invest, we invest for the long term – and with this investment, we feel that we have to be patient. The company has significantly invested in the renewable diesel segment, and that should pay out in the coming years in terms of free cash flows and lower debt levels. The investment case is built on a higher valuation if growth, cash flows and better balance sheet progress is made.
Investments removed from the portfolio
Persol is a Japanese staffing and recruitment company which was originally set up to help female workers find employment. This is a small company and the relative size of the investment within the portfolio dropped below 1% (our minimum level) during this period. We therefore sold the residual holding.