The diary: WHEB’s Tim Dieppe

Tim Dieppe is manager of the IM WHEB Sustainability fund. His diary runs from 24-28 June.

Tim Dieppe 700

I start the week with an early-morning meeting with a sell-side analyst covering Trimble Navigation, a company we hold in the WHEB IM Sustainability fund as part of our efficiency theme. Trimble uses GPS technology in farming and construction applications, ensuring farmers cover their fields in the most efficient manner and that construction sites do not have to be reworked due to inaccurate measurements. Water is another theme for the fund and later we have a meeting with a water analyst covering environmental consultant Tetra-Tech, which had a recent profit warning. In the afternoon, we have a conference call with another US analyst to discuss Polypore, a company in our sustainable transport theme.

Tuesday I attend a breakfast networking event with Lionel Barber of the FT speaking about the global economy. He is full of anecdotes of meeting world leaders and remarkably sanguine about global economic prospects. Then off to present to a group of clients to update them on fund progress.

Wednesday I attend a Global Water Investment Conference, with several companies presenting, and also meet with one of our holdings in this theme, Pentair. The most impressive chart of the day is shown by Carter Strickland, commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection – the largest water and wastewater utility in the US. His chart shows water demand has fallen 50 per cent in the last 30 years while the population increased by 17 per cent. This was achieved through the introduction of water meters (which are now in 98 per cent of houses) and by replacing 15 gallon flush toilets with five gallon flush toilets.

Thursday A chance to collect my thoughts. I was encouraged by the meeting with Pentair. They have set clear targets for 2015 and I am more confident of now the assumptions behind these targets. While I was out on Tuesday, colleagues attended another conference and met with three US companies, including Tetra-Tech, and another colleague met with US life science company Sigma Aldrich. We do not own Sigma Aldrich but have other companies with similar exposure in the fund. We discuss the agenda for our forthcoming investment advisory committee meeting.

Friday Start the morning with an investment team meeting following a week in which the team has met with the management of nine companies. We are reassured about the market for electric vehicles. EVs can now be leased in the US for about $200 per month and save the average user some $100 per month in fuel costs. Polypore remains well placed to benefit from the growth there. We decide to stick with our position in Tetra-Tech as their competitive position and longer-term growth opportunities are very much intact. I am able to spend the afternoon researching polysilicon manufacturer Wacker Chemie in preparation for a meeting next week.

Saturday The day is spent throwing wet sponges at my 11-year-old son Daniel, who is put in stocks as part of a ritual humiliation of school leavers at the school summer fair.

Sunday I lead our church service in the morning and enjoy an afternoon with Daniel performing some piano pieces at a concert organised by his teacher for her pupils. I finish reading Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilisations Fail by William Ophuls.  It is a compelling read but I think there are reasons to be more optimistic about our future. The companies we invest in provide solutions to some of the problems he raises.