Fund Manager’s Diary

Hilary Aldridge is deputy manager of the Stewardship range and the F&C UK Growth & Income fund. Her diary runs from July 11-17.

Monday After a week of company visits I have got hundreds of emails to go through and calls to return. We have been canvassed on two deals: support services firm Ashtead, which specialises in tool hire, and financials group Cardpoint, one of Britain’s biggest providers of fee-paying ATMs. Blackpool-based Cardpoint later announced it was buying its larger rival Moneybox for 87.3m. Cardpoint is raising 55m and we expect significant synergies from the two groups coming together. I also see new restaurant group La Tasca, which is targeting women with its tapas bar format – men don’t like small dishes apparently! In the evening I go for a swim, followed by a picnic with friends in Green Park. We grab some deckchairs and enjoy the last of the evening sun.

Tuesday Slightly disappointing statements from software and computer services company Anite and housebuilder Bovis Homes. However, last week’s purchase – pub owner Urbium, parent of the well-known Tiger Tiger in Piccadilly – receives a takeover bid from Regent Inns, which owns the Australian-themed Walkabout sports bars and Jongleurs comedy clubs. I spend the morning on research and trying to pin down dates for a company trip to Wales. I buy some Cape plc for the F&C Growth & Income fund, which Ted Scott and I have been running since earlier this month. It currently sits alongside the Stewardship Income fund in the IMA UK Equity Income sector, but unlike the “dark green” ethical Stewardship Income fund it can invest across the entire universe of UK-listed companies. I go for a run at lunchtime; I’m preparing for a triathlon at the moment and getting slightly worried about my lack of training so far, but I’ve done it before, so I’m hoping that will give me the edge.

Wednesday After meeting with an auto sensors company I move over to Regus’ offices for a day of graduate recruitment. I am interested that we are using the office outsourcing specialist even if the quoted company no longer owns the UK business. Seems like no time since I was in the same position, but despite seeming impossibly young the graduates are both capable and confident. Flat-hunting in the evening.

Thursday 8am meeting with Interlink Foods, a leading manufacturer of cakes and pastries. It has grown turnover from 9m to nearly 100m since 1998, both organically and by acquisition, and has recently entered continental Europe. Smaller UK plcs don’t have a great history in Europe, but the Eastern European countries have a more comparable business philosophy and the team seems delighted with its acquisition in Poland. In the afternoon I meet with the CEO of a software distribution and data storage company. The shares have been volatile, but trading appears to be stabilising and it could be interesting if the debt is sorted out.

Friday Off early with Ted to see a fund of funds manager in the south of England. We are positive on the UK equity market and are confident of opportunities in both the FTSE 100 and the small-cap universe. Equities look reasonably valued relative to other asset classes and the smaller companies index hasn’t enjoyed the same performance as the FTSE 250, despite the latter’s domestic bias. We have a positive meeting and it’s a case of tidying up the last bits before heading off to Manchester to see some old uni friends.

Weekend The weekend is spent is in a relaxed fashion and the sun is shining, even up North! A run in Richmond Park on Sunday is livened up by jogging behind a well-known chef.