The following is a brief introduction to each of your portfolio companies, with a description of why we believe they deserve a position in the Marlin portfolio.
Abbott Laboratories is a global healthcare company with leading market positions in medical devices, infant formula, adult nutrition, diagnostics and branded generic drugs.
Abbott Laboratories is well placed with market leading positions in a number of growing end markets driven by an aging population and emerging market growth. Abbott Laboratories has a long track record of profitable investment into fast growing healthcare segments and we expect them to continue to reinvest in the business to strengthen its competitive position and drive continued growth over the long term.
Adidas is the largest European and second largest global sportswear manufacturer with brands such as Adidas, Reebok and TaylorMade Golf.
Adidas is a well-known and managed company with a strong track record of growth and shareholder return. The company is currently going through a difficult period due to factors that are largely outside the management's control. Weak sales in Russia because of sanctions and a weak ruble together with an overstocked golfing equipment market have hurt sales in 20% of its business. Adidas has a strong underlying business, and while it still faces challenges, the recent share price weakness provided an opportunity to buy a strong company at a reasonable price.
Alibaba is the largest E-commerce player in China with an overall online shopping market share of 80%.
Alibaba is the online marketplace leader in China and is 15x larger than its nearest competitor. It has sustainable competitive advantages through its extensive network and scale. Alibaba is also a major beneficiary of strong online shopping growth in China due to continued urbanisation, increasing incomes and a poor physical retail infrastructure in many Chinese cities. Alibaba is expected to grow in excess of 25% per annum over the next five years.
Alphabet is the holding company which owns the world's leading internet search provider, Google. Google is the world's most visited website and the largest global advertising platform by advertising revenue.
Alphabet has high moats arising from its dominant position in online search, significant intellectual property and a strong brand. Alphabet is well-positioned to benefit from the rapid rise in online advertising spend.
Amazon.com is the world’s largest internet based retailer. It also operates a cloud computing business, Amazon Web Services, which offers data storage and analytical services.
Amazon.com sits at the crossroads of two very powerful megatrends – growth in e-commerce and the increasing adoption of public cloud architecture for data storage and analytics. It is the market leader in both these areas with significant scale and network advantages. E-commerce and public cloud have long growth runways and Amazon.com is in a prime position to monetise these opportunities.
Blackhawk is the leading prepaid gift card network offering gift cards from leading consumer brands (e.g. iTunes, Amazon) with a strong dominance in the supermarket distribution channel. It is the market leader in this growing niche market with only one other significant competitor.
Blackhawk has a strong competitive advantage through its extensive distribution network supported by a strong value proposition for all participants in the value chain. It has a strong growth outlook over the medium term through increasing penetration in the US and expansion into international markets. Blackhawk has a strong track record of delivering revenue and earnings growth and earns very high returns on capital invested.
Based in Italy, Brembo is a global leader in high performance braking systems. The majority of sales come from high-end cars (customers include Ferrari, Audi, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz) and motorcycles (customers include Ducati and Harley Davidson).
As the global leader in its industry, with a strong technology advantage arising from its sole involvement in braking systems for Formula 1, it is well positioned to continue increasing global market share.
Cerner is the world’s largest healthcare information technology provider with a range of products that provide solutions for all the software needs of healthcare organisations including electronic medical records, practice management and billing systems, hospital IT admin as well as applications in the area of population health management (data analytics which predicts medical care requirements for patient populations).
Cerner’s software is critical to its clients operations. Switching costs are high and switching tendencies are very low, and it has both significant scale and superior technology that has allowed it to continuously win market share as the industry consolidates. Cerner has a strong track record and attractive growth outlook as a result of increasing IT requirements in the healthcare sector.
Cognizant is a leading IT services company providing information technology, consulting and business services to a range of mainly larger global companies.
Cognizant is a wide moat company that is deeply ingrained with its customers as a partner in IT and wider business strategy. Cognizant has invested heavily to position itself to capture the significant move of IT towards digital (social, media, analytics and cloud) which should underpin long term growth. Furthermore, Cognizant has a strong management team and a great track record of growth and innovation.
Coloplast is a medical device company that develops, manufactures and markets ostomy, continence care, urology, wound and skin products.
Coloplast offers a string long-term value proposition, operating in oligopolistic niche markets selling high-quality, low-price, consumable products to long-term users with low switching tendencies. Ageing populations and increasing cancer incidence provide strong structural growth drivers. Coloplast has a strong track record of adding value for shareholders and a shareholder-friendly capital deployment policy.
Core Laboratories is a US based oil services company specialising in enhanced oil production and oil reservoir management with an ultimate goal of maximising the efficiency of hydrocarbon recovery by oil companies.
Core Laboratories is a rare wide moat company in the energy sector given its unique and difficult to replicate library of oilfield data that is used by their clients to increase the extraction and return from their oilfields. Core Laboratories offers a strong value proposition to their clients by generating high returns through improved efficiency at relatively low cost. The company has a track record of generating strong cash flow and returning this to their shareholder base.
Descartes is a logistics software business.
Descartes business moat is centred on its Global Logistics Network (GLN). The GLN connects supply chain participants, in real time, giving visibility and control of movement of goods across increasingly regulated and complex global supply chains.
eBay is the world's largest online marketplace that brings merchants and consumers together through online websites and mobile applications. eBay has over 160 million active users.
eBay has an enviable track record of value creation, generates strong cashflow and through new initiatives in data analysis and improving features on their website, is expected to grow at 5% for the next three to five years.
Ecolab is the global market leader that provides cleaning and sanitising solutions for the foodservice, hospitality and healthcare industries. It also provides chemicals and technologies to the water treatment and oil production industries.
Ecolab offers a strong value proposition for its vast client base with their product innovations resulting in reduced energy and water usage, lower labour costs and reduced downtime. Ecolab is a high quality company that invests significantly more than its competitors into developing innovative products and this has resulted in continued market share gains. Ecolab has an excellent record of predictable growth and strong growth prospects.
Edwards Lifesciences is the global market leader in the treatment of heart valve disease, which impacts millions of people worldwide and carries a poor prognosis if left untreated. Edward’s main product allows for the treatment of this disease without the need for risky open heart surgery.
Edwards Lifesciences continues to lead the industry in innovation, investing in the development of new products which both improve medical outcomes for patients and help doctors treat a wider range of previously patients using a lower risk approach. With a dominant market share and continued investment in research and development, Edwards Lifesciences is well positioned for long term growth.
Essilor is the leading global manufacturer of corrective lenses, selling to optometrists and other eyewear retailers. More recently, Essilor has expanded into branded sunglasses and online retail, where it owns a number of leading eyewear ecommerce sites.
Essilor is the market leader and continues to drive innovation in corrective lenses. They are well positioned to take advantage of the structurally growing prescription eyewear market, driven by an aging population and increased adoption in emerging markets. Essilor’s proposed merger with Luxottica, the largest manufacturer and retailer of frames and sunglasses, will create a dominant industry player from manufacturing through to retail.
Expedia is the largest online travel agent in the US and is ranked in the top two in most markets globally. Expedia aims to provide the latest technology and the widest selection of top vacation destinations, cheap tickets, hotel deals, car rentals, destination weddings, cruise deals and in-destination activities, attractions, services and travel apps.
Expedia has very strong network and scale moats. The company also has a strong long-term growth outlook coming from a combination of travel industry growth and an increasing tendency to book travel online. Additionally, the online travel agency industry has consolidated to two main players who now have considerable size and hotel network advantages, which act as a highly effective barrier to new entrants. We expect Expedia to grow earnings at mid-teen rates for the next five years. The company is highly profitable, generates returns on capital in excess of 20% and has a strong track record of delivering value to shareholders.
Fresenius is a market leader in the global dialysis industry, and is the only vertically integrated player – providing both products and services to the dialysis market.
Fresenius has strong growth prospects globally as kidney disease becomes more prevalent in an aging population, dialysis and associated treatments are becoming an increasing proportion of overall healthcare costs. Fresenius’ depth of knowledge and data around dialysis should allow them to improve patient outcomes while reducing the overall cost of treatment for this growing global dialysis population.
Graco is the leading global manufacturer of premium equipment used to mix, pump and dispense a wide variety of paints and other fluids and coatings across many sectors.
Graco is a high quality industrial company providing highly specialised equipment to niche markets. It has strong moats through superior technology and scale. Graco supplies industries which face many challenges and their solutions based approach focuses on a quicker new product development cycle aided by having co-located research and development, manufacturing and a specialist sales force. Graco has good growth opportunities both from in the US market and also through their exposure to the emerging markets.
Known as a contract research organisation (CRO), Icon provides specialised services in clinical trial management for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
The increasing complexity and regulatory requirements of clinical trial management is forcing pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies all over the world to seek the help of specialist CROs such as Icon. Icon’s global footprint and broad strengths in clinical management make it one of only a few companies qualified to provide these services. Growth is being driven by this increased shift to outsourcing, the increase in drugs being tested and larger trials required by regulatory bodies such as the FDA.
LKQ is the largest distributor of replacement parts and components needed to repair cars and trucks in the US and Europe.
The value proposition is strong, as these alternative parts cost 20%-50% less than new parts and have been growing in popularity with auto repair shops and insurers. LKQ is the only nationwide distributor of these parts in the US and is growing its footprint in Europe. We believe LKQ can grow strongly over the next few years with minimum impact from the economic cycle.
MasterCard is the second largest payment network in the world, operating in 210 countries and supporting more than 2 billion cards across its network.
MasterCard's growth outlook is underpinned by the secular shift to electronic payments and away from cash, particularly in emerging markets where MasterCard has significant presence. These structural growth drivers combined with increasing margins and high cash flow generation (allowing for substantial share buybacks) supports a strong growth outlook over the medium to long term.
Nike is the world's largest sportswear company, designing, manufacturing and selling high quality footwear, apparel and sporting equipment.
Nike's competitive advantage comes from both its iconic brands and scale – with scale allowing Nike to invest more in marketing than its peers while maintaining higher margins and profitability. Nike's focus on product innovation, including in the area of fitness monitoring, continues to provide strong growth.
Park 24 is a leading Japanese car park business which has also entered the car sharing business, catering to increasing numbers of people looking to reduce the cost of car ownership.
The company has done an exceptional job growing profits in 13 of the last 15 years, and over that time profits have increased nine-fold. The car sharing business adds another leg of growth to an already strong outlook for the company.
PayPal is the global leader in online payments.
We are attracted to PayPal due to its broad based and sustainable competitive advantages and strong growth prospects. PayPal has technology, scale and self-sustaining global network advantages which together give it a considerable advantage over its competitors. Furthermore, PayPal benefits from continued growth in e-commerce and customer demand for high security when transacting online.
Plantronics is the world’s leading manufacturer of hi-tech headsets. Unified communications (integrating disparate voice, data and multimedia into a single unified communications technology) is forecast to grow strongly over the next decade and key to its successful implementation is the use of hi-tech headsets.
Plantronics has developed significant technology and scale advantages, has a solid long-term track record, is a clear leader in its field and offers quality exposure to this high-growth market.
Sarine Technologies is the worldwide market leader in providing equipment and tools for the diamond industry. Sarine’s products are used to grade, cut and optimise the value of diamonds.
Sarine’s products are the leading edge of technology, allowing more efficient planning and cutting of diamonds. This offers a strong value proposition to the diamond manufacturing industry. Its business model is geared towards more recurring income and it has also developed new products that allow it increased exposure to the highly profitable retail part of the value chain.
United Parcel Service (UPS) is the world’s largest package delivery company and operates in over 220 countries and territories with its fleet of 100,000 ground vehicles and 530 aircraft.
The market dynamics of the global freight industry are compelling, with high barriers to entry given the need for a large international network and delivery route density to be competitive. Despite the size of its business, we believe UPS is well-positioned for robust growth, supported by the growth in e-commerce activity and increasing cross-border trade volumes in Asia and Europe.
William Demant is a leading manufacturer and retailer of hearing aids. The company has grown from a small private business to the second largest player in the global hearing aid market, with close to 25% market share and operations in more than 30 countries.
There are only a handful of players in the hearing devices market and high barriers to entry allow for attractive profit margins for exiting operators. An aging population and improved hearing aid technology (which has improved sound quality and made hearing aids less visible) is driving steady organic growth in the industry. William Demant is also consolidating the retail audiology market, allowing them to increasingly capture the retail profit margin on each hearing aid they sell, in addition to the manufacturing margin. As a result of this strong organic growth and margin expansion potential we believe the company can deliver double-digit earnings growth over the medium to long term.
Worldpay is a global leader in the payments processing space operating in over 150 countries with more than 300 alternative payment types, processing close to 35 million transactions per day.
Worldpay is well positioned to benefit from the long growth runway arising from the continued shift away from cash and in-store payments towards electronic payments. Worldpay has strong scale, regulatory and brand moats. Merchant clients tend to be very sticky once a payments system is integrated into their operations and further growth potential lies in the ability to up-sell further services to their client base.
Zoetis a leader in the animal health space (both livestock and companion animal) – an industry with some attractive attributes.
Zoetis has strong moats built around intellectual property, brand and a large direct sales force giving it access to key decision makers (including veterinarians) and end-users. The growth runway is underpinned by a couple of secular growth drivers – increased global protein requirements and increased pet ownership and ‘humanisation’ of pets.