Sustainable strategies for investing in healthcare capture the spirit of the times – and generate competitive returns
In the fall of 2018 the BB Adamant Sustainable Healthcare Fund became the first and, to date, only thematic healthcare fund to be honored with the Ecolabel from Austria’s Climate Action and Environment Ministry. The strategy has attracted considerable interest from investors thanks to its combination of promising fundamental investment ideas and strict sustainability criteria.
Bellevue, the Swiss boutique asset manager, added a highly focused sustainable investment vehicle to its range of investment solutions when it launched the BB Adamant Sustainable Healthcare Fund in late June of 2018. Bellevue’s investment experts supplemented their time-tested investment process with ESG analytics that meet the strict standards of the Austrian UZ49 Ecolabel. In addition to identifying the companies that can offer innovative solutions for today’s challenges in the healthcare sector by improving efficiency, lowering costs, developing drugs for orphan diseases or improving access to medicine in emerging market countries, the fund is focused on healthcare companies that are also leaders in environmental, social and governance issues.
Since its launch in June of 2018, the BB Adamant Sustainable Healthcare Fund has delivered a pleasing 60.0% return (I shares, in USD), beating the performance of the broad MSCI World Healthcare Index (55.7%) and with less volatility too. Compared to similar funds, the strategy is highly competitive, being ranked in the first performance quartile of the Lipper Global Healthcare Peer Group over a 3-year period.
Proven investment process with a disciplined focus on sustainability
Thanks to its broad subsector allocation and country diversification, the BB Adamant Sustainable Healthcare Fund is well positioned to continue its successful strategy of global and local sustainable investment and delivering outperformance for its investors. Zahide Donat, the portfolio manager responsible for the fund's stock selection, comments: «With this mix of fast-growing themes, the right stock selection guided by our proven investment process and strict ESG criteria, we have created an ideal vehicle that generates attractive returns for our investors with a disciplined focus on responsible corporate practices. The fund’s track record confirms that.» Dr. Cyril Zimmermann, Head of Healthcare Funds and Mandates at Bellevue Asset Management, adds that the fund's successful investment strategy is further proof of the team's long-standing expertise in healthcare investments: «Launched in June 2018, our fund was the very first ESG strategy dedicated exclusively to the healthcare sector. It has impressively demonstrated that sustainability can also be leveraged to create value for investors in the healthcare sector.»
Investing responsibly in structural growth
The BB Adamant Sustainable Healthcare Fund focuses primarily on high-growth, attractively valued and profitable healthcare companies from the mid cap segment. Its geographic profile is shaped by companies ensuring an ample local supply of low-cost medicines aligned with regional and cultural particularities. As a result, the BB Adamant Sustainable Healthcare Fund’s exposure to North America is capped at 35% of portfolio assets (benchmark weighting: 71%), whereas the Asian markets are given a weighting of 29% (benchmark: 6%). The fund is not invested in large pharmaceutical companies (market capitalization > USD 200 bn) due to their below-average growth rates and expensive valuations, whereas these stocks have a benchmark weighting of about 27%.
With portfolio assets of around USD 250 mn, the fund has attracted considerable interest from investors and doubled in size over the past 12 months. The strategy is already well-established as an investment tool for sustainable asset management solutions and fund-of-funds and is now attracting the attention of pension funds and other institutional investors seeking more efficiency and sustainability in their global healthcare investments.
Strong contrast between the fund's profile and its benchmark
As investors show ever-greater interest in sustainable investments and regulatory requirements become more stringent, a growing number of companies are lining up behind the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. In 2019, Bellevue Asset Management became a member of the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI) initiative and integrated systematic ESG analyses into its own investment processes.
The BB Adamant Sustainable Healthcare Fund applies the same proven methodology used for Bellevue’s proprietary Adamant Healthcare Index, which is an active, fundamental-driven and highly structured investment process that has established an excellent performance track record over 14 years and counting. There are about 600 global listed healthcare companies in the fund's investment universe. Besides a thorough fundamental analysis, their performance on relevant ESG risks is regularly monitored and evaluated. The sustainability assessment process includes a best-in-class approach for ranking ESG risk profiles as well as norm- and value-based exclusion criteria. Serious environmental or human rights violations and blatant disregard of responsible business practices are systematically avoided by applying various exclusionary thresholds with respect to company revenues.
Bellevue’s investment professionals also make use of the long-standing expertise of sustainability specialists from Sustainalytics, one of the world's leading providers of ESG research and ratings services. In addition, Bellevue acknowledges its role as a responsible asset manager and actively exercises its voting rights in the long-term interest of its investors. A constructive dialog with company representatives regarding their sustainability practices rounds out Bellevue’s ESG process.