Since the Firm’s inception in 1989, Michael Cook and the Investment Team have consistently applied a fundamental bottom-up approach when investing in small cap equities. The firm was founded thirty years ago with one investment strategy, U.S. Small Cap Equity. The current, marketed composite for this strategy (Small Cap Strategy Composite) was launched in October 2003.
We believe SouthernSun’s success in generating long-term alpha to be the product of our disciplined, absolute return focused, concentrated, quality-biased, and cash-flow driven portfolios. Most importantly, we are committed to following this same investment philosophy and process and will not be swayed by popular headlines and hype that somehow “this time is different.”
At SouthernSun we tend to make decisions deliberately, with a long-term perspective and with a certain measure of pride in doing them differently from other investment boutiques. We believe that the development of our firm, its strategies, ownership and functional areas over nearly 30 years reflects this. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the process that generates new ideas for our investment portfolios
While October produced an increase in volatility and a broad repricing, these examples, amongst others, lead us to believe that this did not represent a return to fundamentals. However, we do believe that increased volatility and the cracking of the momentum trade present a real first step toward a shift to fundamentals, favoring high quality and attractive valuations.
Part of the SouthernSun discipline demands a continual effort to achieve a delicate balance across hard and soft data (carefully defining market niche, assessing management fit and capability, and calculating and interpreting financial figures) and between the long-term objectives and the near-term challenges for each portfolio business as well as the entire portfolio. This discipline, this balance, continues to provide our portfolios, and thus our clients, with what we believe to be a distinct advantage over time – particularly when confusion is replete and clarity illusive. We would all prefer that things looked more like line graphs with linear smoothness, but experience/history would suggest things/markets are not. In the short-term, specific company performance and marketplace opinion may seem closely linked – but, the inevitable distortions connected to the inherent lumpiness of real life and real time execution may create unrecognized investment opportunities. Michael Cook articulates his perspective in investing and the value of patience in assessing both investments and performance. Within this framework, he also addresses recent research, the global operating environment and his outlook for the portfolio.
Steel and aluminum tariffs have filled headlines in recent months. We have reviewed our portfolios’ exposure to tariffs and write to share our views.
Michael Cook shares his perspective on SouthernSun’s recent performance and addresses several common questions from clients and consultants about portfolio quality and valuation relative to benchmarks. Our intention is that this will direct meaningful conversation regarding our investment process, its distinguishing elements and our positive outlook for our portfolios.