We are extremely grateful to all our investors in the Carnegie Sverigefond; 2017 was another good year for the fund. The return was a little over 10 percent, which is excellent in relation to the level of risk.
December was a weak month. The Stockholm stock exchange fell and the fund was once again impacted by troubles for Hennes & Mauritz, which reported poor sales figures.
H&M is going through a tough time, with downbeat newspaper headlines almost daily, and the “H&M crisis” has become a talking point alongside the housing market, Trump and Sweden’s integration problems. Every expert seems to suddenly agree that the fairy tale has ended, the company has missed out on online selling and also has fashion problems. It is easy to forget that the company earns SEK 22 billion, is debt free and pays a dividend of 6 percent. H&M certainly has problems, but also an opportunity to deal with them, even if it is painful and could take some time.
On the upside are forest companies Holmen and SCA. Dometic, which made a very exciting acquisition in the United States, also did well. The company’s new CEO bought huge numbers of shares on the last day of the year, which is the best possible vote of confidence.
This month we trimmed back a little on our engineering stocks and welcomed an old friend, namely Securitas. We sold this stock last year when we felt it had become slightly overpriced. Since then the share price has stood still and profits have grown more than we expected. Add to this the fact that US taxes are set to drop sharply, and the company suddenly looks attractive again with its defensive nature and massive push for greater technical content. The new CEO is fully stocked with shares and options, which bodes well.
Our base case is that 2018 returns will be positive at moderate risk, and we estimate that all of the fund’s holdings will improve their profits this year. One caveat is that the stock market has been rising for a very long time and the US equity markets look expensive; a slide on the other side of the Atlantic would also impact us.