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With a cloud hanging over emerging markets, and adverse sentiment overriding strong micro-economic fundamentals, Premier Global Infrastructure Trust (PGIT) had a testing 2018. However, in the first two months of 2019 it has made an excellent start.

Aided by its geared capital structure, PGIT has returned 20.6% in NAV total return terms, closely matched by its share price total return of 20.1%. The MSCI World Utilities Index returned 3.1% in comparison. Earnings growth for the utilities sector has been solid, despite the market’s gyrations. Valuations are now modestly above their five-year averages, but markedly below their five-year highs, and there could be renewed interest as the cycle progresses and investors look for defensive exposure. In the meantime, PGIT continues to offer a strong yield, paid quarterly.

Geared global utilities and infrastructure exposure

PGIT invests in equity and equity-related securities of companies operating in the utilities and infrastructure sectors, with the twin objectives of achieving high income and long-term capital growth from its portfolio. The portfolio has a strong emphasis on emerging markets, smaller companies, special situations and lower weightings to traditional, developed-market utility companies. It is split into three
distinct areas: income equities; growth equities; and yieldcos and investment companies. Its zero dividend preference shares (ZDPs) provide a high level of gearing to its ordinary shares.

wdt_ID Year ended Share price total return (%) NAV total return (%) MSCI World Utilities TR (%) MSCI World TR (%) MSCI UK TR (%)
1 28/02/15 16.8 4.5 15.2 17.6 5.4
2 29/02/16 (28.6) (23.2) 7.5 (0.7) (9.2)
3 28/02/17 48.0 55.5 23.0 36.6 24.2
4 28/02/18 (13.7) (22.2) (7.5) 6.6 3.2
5 28/02/19 (2.4) 5.1 20.5 4.6 2.1