The Triodos Pioneer Impact Fund aims to generate positive impact and competitive financial returns from a concentrated portfolio of small and medium sized (mid-cap) companies pioneering the transition to a more sustainable society.
Keep in mind that our commentary on the fund, as well as its past performance, is not a guarantee of what will happen in the future. It is also not financial advice, so you should consider advice if you’re not sure.
Like all investments, your money is at risk – investments can go down as well as up, currency fluctuations can affect the value of your investment and you may not get back what you put in.
In the third quarter of 2023, the expansion in business activity in most major advanced economies slowed. Global equity markets (which focus on shares) fell, as investors became increasingly convinced that central bankers would not resort to cutting interest rates any time soon. Whilst equity markets were on the rise in July as economic data was better than expected, the mood had shifted by August and September. Core inflation (the amount prices increase over time) only eased modestly, staying far above the central bank targets. With global growth gradually slowing, this was enough reason for central banks to keep interest rates high. As a result, real bond yields rose, which meant they looked relatively more attractive than equities to investors.
How the fund has performed
Triodos Pioneer Impact Fund had a negative return of -8% over the third quarter of 2023. It lagged behind its benchmark (the MSCI World Small & Mid Cap Index) which gave a negative return of -0.2% over the same period. This was mainly the result of some of the holdings in the Information Technology sector, that also include renewable positions like First Solar, SolarEdge, and TPI Composites. We cover some of these in more detail below.
The fund’s biggest overweights, with a higher portion invested compared to the benchmark, are the sectors Industrials and Consumer Discretionary. This is a result of our impact investing strategy where we focus on the impact of companies first rather than the sector they're in. The fund is not invested in the Energy and Real Estate sectors which performed well. This is because companies in these sectors do not normally pass our minimum standards (for example, fossil fuel companies).
As of 30/09/23
Triodos Pioneer Impact Fund KR-cap
Triodos Pioneer Impact Fund KR-dis
You can find more performance figures, including a cumulative performance chart, on the Pioneer Impact Fund webpage.
Please remember that past performance isn't a guide to future returns.
Stocks in focus
Here we’ve picked out some of the key investments that have made either a positive or negative contribution to the performance of the fund. We’ve also explained some of the ways these organisations are making a positive contribution to a more sustainable and inclusive future.
For a full list of investments and to learn more about each one, visit the fund’s Look Through webpage.
Investments that contributed to performance
This US company makes optical technology for cars, specifically for rear-view mirrors. Digital technology makes cars safer and more economical. For example, digital mirrors eliminate the infamous 'blind spots'. They are also smaller than traditional mirrors, so improve aerodynamics and reduce energy consumption. The company published very strong quarterly results and upgraded both 2023 and 2024 outlook.
Strategic Education is a for-profit university that mainly serves minority groups, working adults and those who've not been able to complete a degree before. They provide them with the flexibility required to advance their education. In addition to its university campuses in the United States, it also provides education across the world via its online offering. The company reported in-line second quarter results, its enrolments of new students are growing again and that reassured the market.
Universal Display designs and makes organic light emitting diodes (OLED) which are used for displays in devices like smartphones and TVs. OLED is a more energy-efficient substitute for LCD or LEDs and plays a significant role in reducing the total energy consumption of a device. The company's results were better than expected and management revised its full year 2023 outlook upwards.
Investments that detracted from performance
TPI Composites is a US company manufacturing composite turbine blades for the wind energy market. With over 95% of revenues from wind turbine blades manufacturing the company contributes directly to the energy transition theme. Moreover, TPI produces composite materials for electric vehicles and auto buses. It intends to grow this segment substantially in the years ahead.
The poor performance came when TPI Composities announced challenges with producing a bigger type of wind blades. However, we believe that the business model of the company remains viable. After speaking to the company, we're satisfied that they are able to resolve these challenges.
GN Store Nord
GN Store Nord develops, manufactures, and markets medical, professional, and consumer audio solutions. The company operates through GN Audio (two thirds of revenues) and GN Hearing (one third of revenues) segments. The GN Audio segment supplies headsets and speakerphone solutions primarily for professional use, and consumer headsets and earbuds for calls, music, and media consumption. The GN Hearing segment produces and sells hearing instruments and products for people with hearing loss.
The company raised the guidance for the hearing aid business, but lowered guidance for the audio business as consumers are still cautious with spending. However, we believe that demand for their products will grow as investor confidence returns.
Wolfspeed is the biggest commercial supplier of Silicon Carbide in the world. It aligns well with our sustainability theme, as its innovative silicon alternatives are used in electric vehicles and solar energy. This company reported strong results with both earnings and revenues above what was expected. The company also has a strong design for a new product in the pipeline, which management think will increase revenue in the future.
The company has struggled with ramping up production as it is moving materials from another facility. This means that full production will be reached later in the year, which the market took quite negatively. However, Wolfspeed remains a firm long-term investment for the fund and it still expects to reach the full-year June 2024 guidance.
Investments added to the portfolio
Darling Ingredients collects edible by-products and food waste, and transforms them into a range of sustainable products and renewable energy. It avoids landfill and incineration by turning things which would go to waste into useful products that can be used for ingredients, fertilisers, oils, medicine and fuel.
This company fits in well with our mission for a circular economy which makes use, and re-use, of available resources and avoids waste. While we appreciate that not everyone will agree with companies that process animal resources, we believe that, whilst the animal industry is still part of the system, Darling Ingredients is a pioneering company in the circular economy.
Planet Fitness operates over 2,400 fitness centres in all 50 US states, as well as in Canada, Australia, Panama, Puerto Rico and Mexico. The company's mission is to provide a welcoming, non-intimidating environment where anyone can pursue a healthy lifestyle regardless of their fitness level. Planet Fitness facilitates a healthy lifestyle by providing affordable gym memberships. By offering affordable gym memberships in underserved communities, Planet Fitness is helping to mitigate the negative health effects associated with poverty and lack of access to fitness facilities.
The share price fell in value over this period as its CEO unexpectedly left. This does not change our long term investment rationale, but the CEO was highly regarded by investors.
Investments removed from the portfolio
Two large cap companies (Xylem and Straumann) were sold. Large cap companies are defined as companies with a market capitilsation (total value of the companies shares) of less than 16 billion US dollars. As the Pioneer fund focuses on small to medium cap companies, we wanted to reduce amount of large cap companies we invest in. The fund now only holds two large cap companies: Terna and First Solar.