The investments managed by a leading fund manager are holding steady in spite of rising interest rates in the United States, increased global tensions and uncertainty surrounding Barbados’ currency and fiscal situation.
This was revealed in the recently released Fortress Fund Managers quarterly report which focused on the Caribbean Growth Fund; the Caribbean High Interest Fund; and the Caribbean Pension Fund. According to the report, the first quarter of this year was flat, but there is optimism that the rising interest rates in the United States will gradually increase potential returns. “There are certainly risks – and they always are – but we still see very good long-term prospects for the kind of well-valued shares we own in the Caribbean region and globally. The silver lining of rising interest rates in the U.S is that they will gradually increase the potential returns for bond investors who have been underpaid for several years,” the report notes.
As it relates to the Caribbean Growth Fund, global markets had a volatile start at the beginning of the year and Caribbean stocks were largely unchanged. The report states that “Global equities started the year with a surge in January, a precipitous drop in February, and choppy trade in March before ending the quarter almost unchanged”. Despite this, the Fund returned 0.4% for the first quarter and 9.1% over the past year. Its net asset value (NAV) finished March 31 at $5.9436 and net assets were $465 million, up from $433 million for the same period last year.
The Caribbean High Interest Fund is reported as remaining “squarely in capital preservation mode” in response to the ongoing risks in Caribbean government debt and rising rates globally. This Fund declined 0.1% for the first quarter and has returned 1.5% over the past year. Global interest rates rose during the quarter and bond prices fell with Caribbean government bonds remaining stressed. In spite of this the net assets were $131 million, up from $126 million for the same period in 2017. The average gross yield to maturity of the Fund’s portfolio is currently 2.9% with very limited risk. Fortress is committed to investing more aggressively as the regional and global prospects for bond investors improve.
The three classes of shares of the Pension Fund returned between 0.1% and 0.4% in the first quarter of 2018 and are up between 2.4% and 7.5% over the past year. There was short term volatility to start the year, but there was little change in the markets by the end of the quarter.
Fortress manages more than $650 million across 13 different funds with regional and global investments.