5 Minutes With: Hermes' Tim Crockford

This week we talk to Tim Crockford, manager of the four-star rated Hermes Europe ex UK Equity fund, about a missed opportunity in tech and the opportunity in natural gas

Annalisa Esposito 9 August, 2019 | 10:45AM
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Tim Crockford, 36, has managed the four-star rated Hermes Europe Ex-UK Equity fund since 2015 – unfortunately his teenage dream of becoming a famous DJ didn’t come true. The fund has returned nearly 12% over the last three years, and top holdings include Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk and semi-conductor maker ASML Holding.

What does the fund do?

We invest in continental European companies using a thematic framework. Essentially, we identify structural trends and invest in new emerging products in a specific area or in new markets.

Which stock are you currently excited about in the portfolio?

A French company called GTT, which provides the lining for liquid natural gas vessels. It’s an exciting opportunity for us, they have three-quarters of the total global market share. It’s well positioned for a possible market downturn - global trade in energy is increasing and that means more of these vessels are needed to transport the gas.

What is your best ever investment?

Arm Holdings. It dates back to my days as a junior analyst in 2009, when it was a tiny undervalued UK-based technology company. We sold it five years later, when the investment had grown 17-fold. It still provides microchips that can be found in every smartphone and tablet.

And your worst? 

Dialogue, another UK-based tech company. I had a timing issue and time is everything. After I invested, a rumour circulated that the company would lose the contract with iPhones. However, within a few months of me selling the position it had sold its technology to Apple. It's the worst investment decision I ever made, and one that still stinks to this very day.

What’s the stock you didn’t buy that you wish you had?

Luxury retailer Moncler. It was doing something very different in terms of increasing brand visibility and the organic growth that would be driven by tracking new customers. I didn’t invest and the rest is history.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?

That managing risk is important. It’s better not to concentrate the risk over three or four names in the portfolio, but to spread it evenly among all the holdings.

What do you do in your spare time? 

I used to have hobbies until I had a baby girl 15 months ago; now my spare time is not very spare anymore. Her favourite animal is a monkey, but she can’t pronounce the letter “K”, so she randomly talks about money. So my spare time is mostly spent making sure she doesn’t go around shouting about money all the time.

If I weren’t a fund manager…

My dad is a medical professional, so something in that space maybe. Or I would have pursued my one-time aspiration to be a famous DJ.

What’s the best thing about this industry?

The chance to learn about so many other industries. It’s perfect if you are intellectually curious and you have the desire to learn about the way the world is changing. It’s never repetitive, it never gets boring.

And what's the worst?

The short-term nature of the industry. One day, one thing can be very fascinating and suddenly the day after, everything changes and the world becomes a completely different place.

The information contained within is for educational and informational purposes ONLY. It is not intended nor should it be considered an invitation or inducement to buy or sell a security or securities noted within nor should it be viewed as a communication intended to persuade or incite you to buy or sell security or securities noted within. Any commentary provided is the opinion of the author and should not be considered a personalised recommendation. The information contained within should not be a person's sole basis for making an investment decision. Please contact your financial professional before making an investment decision.

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Annalisa Esposito  is a data journalist for Morningstar.co.uk

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