Established in 1987, TSMC is the world’s first dedicated semiconductor foundry, or semiconductor fabrication (fab) company. As essential components of most electronic devices and circuits, semiconductor chips are the building blocks of connectivity for all industries. In an era of undisputed importance and growth of the internet of things, this company has a leading role in enabling the growth of — and satisfying the demand for — advanced chips and ever-faster computer power by both consumer and industrial end markets. TSMC has extended its dominance during recent years to become the principal partner of the “fabless” chip design companies globally. Also, it has the critical advantage of being independent, and thus, as a brand agnostic chip manufacturer, TSMC constantly thrives on process improvement. With scale and ability to continue to invest (currently to the tune of $11 billion per year) in leading-edge manufacturing facilities with unparalleled efficiency and low cost, Impax believes that TSMC is well-positioned to produce solid returns on capital with little or no leverage and excellent financial discipline. Recent sales trends and revenue growth remain positive, demonstrating resilient demand for advanced semiconductors during a pandemic-induced downturn. A robust balance sheet and positive cash flow generation this year should help the company weather current disruptions in the global economy.
Keyence is a high-quality factory automation company focused on customized solutions for production lines. The company’s complex sensors and automation systems improve productivity by making production more efficient, with higher speeds yet fewer defects, waste and energy use. In fact, Keyence can increase the productivity of a production line by as much as 30%. Premium prices for consulting services that include design and engineering expertise help to generate high operating margins and consistent free cash flow. These margins are helped by a direct sales model, high product innovation, and outsourced production. Expanding sales forces in China and especially the United States have grown sales outside Japan from 30% to 50% of total sales during the last few years. New product cycles and cost savings programs have been key, making this company’s business model less cyclical than its peers. End markets are well diversified by industry, from electrical machinery to automotive, semiconductor, machinery and food/pharma. Keyence’s leading-edge sensor, detection and measurement products and systems can capture data quickly and can efficiently feed it to sophisticated control systems for more interactive and “smart” production systems. In the short term, idle factories and the impact of lockdowns on the company’s sales model will have some negative impact. However, Keyence is well positioned to benefit from a COVID-19 related increase in demand for factory automation, as customers seek to adapt their production lines by reducing worker proximity on factory floors. In addition, Keyence will benefit earlier on during the recovery, as customers first focus on productivity improvements before they commit to new capacity expansion.
Jeronimo Martins is a well-run leading grocery retailer focusing on emerging markets including Poland, Colombia and Portugal. The company has a leading position of a 15% market share in Poland, largely through its discount chain, Biedronka, and stands to benefit from scale as its square footage growth increases. The product range of its stores typically includes a high proportion of fresh food and vegetables at affordable price points. The company is positioned to benefit in the short term from improving sales momentum in its core Polish market, while attractive long-term opportunities are presented by its expansion into Colombia. It should make further market share gains in all markets driven by a highly efficient grocery discounter business model. The company has effective policies and practices to address material risks such as product quality, safety and labor management.
Lonza Group AG
Lonza is a 112-year-old, $30 billion market cap chemicals and contract development and manufacturing organization company (CDMO) based in Switzerland. The company produces organic fine chemicals, biocides, active ingredients and biotechnology products. Lonza offers custom chemical manufacturing and fermentation processing and manufactures products for the life sciences, pharmaceuticals, food processing and agricultural products industries. Lonza operates production sites in Europe, the United States and China. In recent years, the company has transitioned from a chemicals company to the largest outsourced drug manufacturer, with roughly 80% of revenues stemming from healthcare-related products and 20% from chemicals. Lonza is the largest biologics CDMO with the broadest offerings and longest track record, and is therefore well-positioned to benefit from the structural shift to large molecule drugs. Given its exposure to nearly the entire value chain, Lonza stands to accelerate the development of new biologic drugs and enable biotech and biopharma companies to bring innovative drugs to market faster and at a lower cost.
Bandhan Bank operates as a commercial bank and is India’s largest microfinance bank, focusing on serving the rural, underbanked and under-penetrated markets in India. Bandhan Bank sources retail deposits from the semi-urban and urban middle class to finance the microfinance lending business, which represents the vast majority of the loan book, and 100% of these borrowers are female. Priority sectors include agricultural loans such as those to small and marginal farmers. Regionally, the bank is focused in North and Eastern India where penetration rates are lower, with the average loan size at $350. This high-quality bank is well positioned to continue to benefit from the transition to a more sustainable and inclusive global economy. It has developed a strong brand and a strong track record of cost leadership and profitability with resilient margins. Despite charging the lowest interest rates for its microfinance loans, Bandhan Bank has the best financial ratios in India. The investment team believes it has a long runway for growth, with continued expansion and penetration of its customer base and market share gains, including from excellent operating efficiency.
Ecolab is a market leader in water optimization, efficiency and hygiene solutions across many end markets including hospitals, schools, governments, restaurants and industrial businesses. Ecolab has the biggest market share among competitors in food safety and ranks second in water efficiency products. The global need for improved water efficiency, water testing and water treatment has never been greater. Ecolab sells chemicals, products and systems to help preserve, re-use and optimize water usage. A strong management team has led the growth of the company from a U.S.-centric business to a leading global player across a broad array of end markets in a fragmented industry. The company has a strong focus on innovation and its business model is built on deep understanding of customer needs and providing solutions that drive customer savings despite Ecolab’s premium price point. Ecolab benefits from a high stream of recurrent earnings, which together with the high margins drives strong cashflow. Customer penetration rates are rising, and the company is gaining market share. This offers excellent growth opportunities.
KDDI is a Japanese telecommunication company that helps to provide the digital backbone for the connected world — the system for enhanced productivity through communication. KDDI benefits from the rise in Japan’s smartphone penetration, which is expected to reach 70% within the next three years, and, importantly, from the surge in data use this year — the company prices data according to usage levels. KDDI is focused on “future proofing” its network (its fixed line backbone) with rapidly changing technologies and volumes and the need to ensure robust infrastructure with the move from mobile to Wi-Fi. The digital economy represents lower cost, lower intensity and lower environmental footprint advantages. KDDI has strong programs and policies to manage its material ESG concerns, positioning itself well within the Japanese telecommunication market. Data privacy, of course, is a key issue. KDDI demonstrates best practices, including a commitment not to collect personal information from third-party sources.
Pax Global Opportunities Fund Top 10 Holdings
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