FA Magazine March 2023 | Page 52

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knowledge for the sophisticated advisor
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Showcase your firm ’ s success
volatility and the markets going haywire , winning by not losing can be valuable ,” Weiss offers . “ I ’ m pleased that the fund didn ’ t materially underperform the index in a very difficult year .”
Of course , el stinko financial markets like last year ’ s present opportunities to reposition an investment portfolio . Weiss says that in the second half he gravitated toward buying more pro-cyclical names and selling more defensive names because that ’ s where the relative valuations were sending him . ing Covid the stock went down , which provided a valuation opportunity .”
The U . S . Can Be Foreign , Too
The Fidelity Advisor International Growth Fund ’ s portfolio has a healthy dose of U . S . -based firms . In fact , the U . S . held the largest country weighting in the fund as of year-end 2022 at 19.75 %– even though the fund ’ s benchmark had no U . S . exposure at all . ( European companies represent 53 % of the Fidelity portfolio and Japan 12 %.)
Ultimately , Weiss posits , the key to his success has been the consistency of his investment process and portfolio construction throughout the 15 years he has run this fund .
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“ Defensive stocks did very well — and cyclical , industrials and tech stocks did poorly . So the fund began to tilt [ in response to that ], which was more bottom-up than top-down ,” he says .
Recently , Weiss has been watching companies emerge from the Covid disruption to see which ones are notably stronger than they were before . Some companies dramatically cut their cost structures in a way they likely couldn ’ t have done without the massive operational disruption of the pandemic . Those insights have since shaped the portfolio ’ s composition .
Take Safran , a French outfit that ’ s one of the leading makers of engines for narrow-body aircraft . Weiss notes that it can be difficult for companies in certain European countries ( like France ) to cut their cost structures . But Safran took advantage of the aerospace industry ’ s massive downturn during the pandemic to significantly slash its head count .
“ Its cost structure coming out of Covid was very different than it was pre-Covid , yet the long-term demand profile for narrow-body aircraft remains intact ,” Weiss says . “ This is a business model with highly recurring revenue and historically strong pricing power . Dur-
Weiss points out that all U . S . -based companies in his fund have significant overseas operations . One example is PriceSmart , which he describes as the Costco of Central America , the Caribbean and Colombia . PriceSmart is based in San Diego , where the company ’ s founder , the late Sol Price , is credited with developing the warehouse club model . One of his original creations , Price Club , later merged into Costco , which was led by one of his protégés .
“ Its headquarters are in San Diego because that ’ s where the founding family lives , but essentially all of its business occurs in emerging markets ,” Weiss says . “ So yes , these companies show up as U . S . securities , but they don ’ t necessarily trade like U . S . securities because the majority of revenue and profits occur overseas .”
Ultimately , Weiss posits , the key to his success has been the consistency of his investment process and portfolio construction throughout the 15 years he has run this fund .
“ And I want to be patient , which is an important factor in the fund ’ s low turnover ,” he says . “ I ’ m a patient investor because I think that ’ s where the inefficiency lies and that ’ s where I ’ ve been able to find the best opportunities .”