Is Schroders The Ultimate Retirement Share?

Published in Company Comment on 4 December 2012

Will shares in Schroders help you build a FTSE-beating retirement fund?

The last five years have been tough for those in retirement. Portfolio valuations have been hammered and annuity rates have plunged. There's no sign of things improving anytime soon, either, as the eurozone and the UK economy look set to muddle through at best for some years to come.

A great way of protecting yourself from the downturn, however, is by building your retirement fund with shares of large, well-run companies that should grow their earnings steadily over the coming decades. Over time, such investments ought to result in rising dividends and inflation-beating capital growth.

In this series, I'm tracking down the UK large-caps that have the potential to beat the FTSE 100 (UKX) over the long term and support a lower-risk income-generating retirement fund (you can see the companies I've covered so far on this page).

Today, I'm going to take a look at Schroders (LSE: SDR), the global asset management company and fund manager.

Schroders vs. FTSE 100

Let's start with a look at how Schroders has performed against the FTSE 100 over the last 10 years:

Total Returns2007200820092010201110 yr trailing avg
Schroders19.0%-31.7%58.6%41.9%-27.1%13.5%
FTSE 1007.4%-28.3%27.3%12.6%-2.2%7.6%

Source: Morningstar

(Total return includes both changes to the share price and reinvested dividends. These two ingredients combined are what make it possible for equity portfolios to regularly outperform cash and bonds over the long term.)

Schroders has outperformed the FTSE 100 over the last five years and its 10-year average trailing total return is considerably higher than that of the leading index, suggesting sustained strong performance. Schroders' shares are up by 24% so far this year, too -- so could this firm be a retirement share?

What's the score?

To help me pinpoint suitable investments, I like to score companies on key financial metrics that highlight the characteristics I look for in a retirement share. Let's see how Schroders shapes up:

ItemValue
Year founded1804
Market cap£3.7bn
Net debt (cash)(£2.3bn)
Dividend Yield2.4%
5 year average financials
Operating margin21.8%
Interest covern/a
EPS growth8.1%
Dividend growth9.3%
Dividend cover2.5x

Source: Morningstar, Reuters, Schroders

Here's how I've scored Schroders on each of these criteria:

CriteriaCommentScore
LongevityMore than two centuries in business.5/5
Performance vs. FTSESchroders has outperformed the index consistently.4/5
Financial strengthStrong margins, plenty of cash and a prudent dividend policy.4/5
EPS growthSteady growth suggests a stable but growing business.4/5
Dividend growthAn attractive growth rate that's well above inflation, although its yield is below average.4/5
Total: 21/25

Schroders' score of 21/25 suggests that it could be a strong candidate for a retirement fund portfolio -- and the investment management company certainly has a number of strong factors in its favour. Its dividends have risen or been held every year for the last ten (the longest I could find data for), during which time the annual dividend has doubled. Anyone who purchased shares in Schroders ten years ago will now be enjoying a dividend yield on cost of almost 8%, in addition to a capital gain of about 175% -- all from the relative safety of a FTSE 100 share.

Schroders' business appears to be in good health, too. Its operating margins are stable at more than 20% and in its most recent quarterly results it reported net inflows of £5.3 billion, beating expectations and taking total assets under management to £203 billion. According to the company, 68% of its assets under management have outperformed the relevant benchmark over the last three years, which should help it retain customers' funds over the long term.

Schroders' diversity is also attractive. Although the majority of its assets under management are from institutional investors such as pension funds, nearly one-third are from retail investors. Its global presence also provides an attractive geographical diversity, and the company is benefiting from the gradual recovery of the large North American market, which drove £1.6bn of net sales during the first half of this year, exceeding the total £1.1bn net sales from the rest of the world. The company has also reported that 'longevity' has improved this year, with institutional investors leaving their funds invested with Schroders for an average of 6.3 years, up from 5.3 years in 2011. Part of this is probably due to the wider market recovery, but it is an attractive statistic all the same.

Schroders shares are currently priced at 15.8 times 2011 earnings, which is in line with the average price-to-earnings ratio for the FTSE 100. Although they aren't cheap, I think that Schroders is a quality company that could have real promise as a retirement share, and could be worth considering if you are looking for a financial share to hold over the long term.

Top income picks

Doing your own research is important, but another good way of identifying great dividend-paying shares is to study the choices of successful professional investors.

One of the most successful income investors currently working in the City is fund manager Neil Woodford, who manages more money for private investors than any other City manager. Neil Woodford's High Income fund grew by 342% in the 15 years to June 2012, during which time the FTSE All-Share index managed a gain of only 125%.

You can learn about Neil Woodford's top holdings and how he generates such fantastic returns in this free Motley Fool report. Many of Mr Woodford's choices look like excellent retirement shares to me and the report explains how he chose some of his biggest holdings.

This report is completely free and I strongly recommend you download "8 Shares Held By Britain's Super Investor" today, as it is available for a limited time only.

> Roland does not own shares in Schroders.

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