Covestone predicts profit this year

Donal Roche says his asset management firm will make a ‘minimum’ €50,000 profit

Donal Roche of Covestone Asset Management expects to have €160 million in client funds on the asset management firm’s  books this year. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Donal Roche of Covestone Asset Management expects to have €160 million in client funds on the asset management firm’s books this year. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

 

Back to black is the theme for Donal Roche’s Covestone Asset Management this year. Over a coffee in the Conrad Hotel this week, Roche confidently predicted that Covestone, which opened for business in 2010, would make a “minimum” €50,000 profit this year on the back of strong growth in client funds.

“We definitely will be profitable this year and next year,” Roche said.

Covestone’s last set of published accounts showed a loss of €91,404 in 2013 due to the costs of setting up a team of high-quality asset managers to run its funds. It has 11 staff on the payroll.

The business has been steadily building, and Roche expects to have €160 million in client funds on its books this year.

It’s Empiricus equity fund aimed at institutional investors has performed strongly over the past two years, topping MoneyMate’s ranking with a return of 56.8 per cent. Take the year to date and it has topped a Morningstar table of Irish funds with a 29 per cent return.

Roche described them as the “best returns in the British Isles” and its Empiricus funds have attracted about €60 million in client funds so far.

The Empiricus fund involves just 30 “ignored” and “unloved” equity stocks globally from a universe of 5,000 that meet its data-driven investment criteria. The trick is to spot a buying opportunity and to have no emotion about the stocks.

“You have got to be contrarian and be prepared to swim against the tide,” Roche said.

The portfolio is reviewed every three months and Covestone is currently selling down Europe and switching funds into Japan.

No Irish public company has yet made the cut but Smurfit Kappa is “not a million miles away”.

Roche’s clients are a range of pension funds, charities, wealthy families and high-net worth individuals who need €200,000-plus to get a hearing. Covestone also manages his family’s wealth, giving him “skin in the game” so to speak.

There are no entry and exit fees and the company doesn’t handle client funds with Northern Trust acting as custodian. The former managing partner of law firm Matheson Ormsby Prentice has already rebuffed three or four offers for the business, preferring to concentrate on growing the business for the long term.

“We want to build a very big Irish asset management business that will be here in 10 and 20 years’ time,” he said.

Now that is a contrarian view to take.