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Paul and Brett's Alpha

February 2022

Ev'rybody's talking 'bout… this-ism, that-ism 

We are seldom lost for words, nor do we often decline an opportunity to indulge in the wondrous breadth of the English language. However, any meaningful critique on the irrationality of markets or the future of healthcare feels hopelessly self-indulgent at this moment and readers deserve better than some languorous meanderings about the state of the world.

Much as we do not really understand the illogical factor-driven behaviour of the stock market over recent months, we do not understand either what strategic benefit Putin hopes to gain from his murderous war on the people of Ukraine. He cannot hope to hold on the territory and the direct and indirect costs of his actions to Russia and its benighted population are incalculably large and growing by the day.

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round 

In truth, we are all helpless passengers for now. We can be thankful that the epicentre of all this remains sufficiently far away as to not trouble us directly, but it is perilously close enough for most of us to know someone who is directly affected by events, and our thoughts are with all those caught up in this tragedy.

We can but hope that a peaceful resolution will be swift and this new-found spirit of global co-operation against tyranny lasts for many years to come; “the West” has stood idly by for far too long in respect of Russian expansionism and has also been very selective in which oppressive dictatorships it chooses to challenge, leaving inevitably to circumlocutions about moral equivalence. Most of us can easily tell the difference between right and wrong.

With this in mind, we continue to run the portfolio on the basis of a world order that is broadly unchanged in long-term, i.e. assuming that the current crisis does not grow into a global conflagration. Presuming this is the case, then we continue to be positive about the opportunities that lie in front of us, and these are compounded by the depressed asset valuations that persist as a consequence of geo-political uncertainty.Whilst the portfolio has recovered some of its relative performance to wider healthcare, there is still a significant gap in relative valuation between small/mid-cap healthcare and large/mega-cap healthcare compared to historical norms.

For instance; does it really make sense that the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index recently touched levels seen in late 2019, i.e. pre-COVID? Has the sector really not created any economic value in three years (and let us not forget that it would be ~5% lower still if the COVID vaccine stocks were at 2019 valuations)?.

As noted in the introduction, macro and geopolitical events are clearly going to be the main drivers of sentiment and thus portfolio performance and it is likely to be a bumpy road as investors vacillate between ‘risk on’ and ‘risk off’ mindsets. We will continue to take a long-term approach and be opportunistic in the short-term regarding opportunities to bolster the portfolio.

We always appreciate the opportunity to interact with our investors directly and you can submit questions regarding the Trust at any time via: shareholder_questions@bbhealthcaretrust.co.uk

As ever, we will endeavour to respond in a timely fashion and we thank you for your continued support during these volatile weeks.