Commentary

Oakmark International Fund: First Quarter 2017

March 31, 2017

The Oakmark International Fund returned 9.4% for the quarter ended March 31, 2017, outperforming the MSCI World ex U.S. Index, which returned 6.8% over the same period. Most importantly, the Fund has returned an average of 10.0% per year since its inception in September 1992, outperforming the MSCI World ex U.S. Index, which has averaged 5.9% per year over the same period.

Glencore, one of the world’s largest mining companies and commodities traders, was the top contributor to performance again this quarter, returning 14%. Glencore reported full-year 2016 operating profit of $10.3 billion, which exceeded our estimates by approximately 5%. Improved profitability was driven by solid performance in both the Industrial and Marketing segments. In January, we met with CEO Ivan Glasenberg, who remains optimistic about copper prices given steady demand and deteriorating supply. In addition, Glencore officially completed its debt reduction plan in 2016, and its net debt declined by $14.1 billion over the last 18 months—a remarkable achievement that reflects management’s decisive action. As the company’s balance sheet health has improved, so has its generation of free cash flow, which will largely be returned to shareholders. Management plans to return at least $1 billion to shareholders in 2017 via dividends. We believe management is working to enhance shareholder value, and our investment thesis remains intact.

H&M, a global fashion designer and retailer, was the largest detractor for the quarter, declining 8%. As we anticipated, higher-than-normal inventory levels in the first quarter led to increased markdowns and lower margins. While H&M has started to see an improvement in a number of markets, including China, its performance in the U.S. and Central/Southern Europe remains weak. However, the company is taking definitive steps to improve results and increase its profitability. Last year, a new management team revised the company’s growth targets to focus more on comparable and profitable growth. Also it recently announced the launch of the Arket brand, a higher priced concept that will offer classic garments for women, men and children, as well as home furnishings. We support this move as the company has been successful with its other lines, including & Other Stories and COS. We believe that H&M’s substantial investments over the past few years will soon bear fruit and that the gross margin headwinds facing the company will also abate. For these reasons, we continue to believe that H&M provides good investment value and that it will reward shareholders in the long term.

During the quarter, we sold our position in Nomura Holdings and added two new names to the portfolio: Publicis Group (France), a leading global advertising and media services company, and Volvo (Sweden), the world’s second-largest truck manufacturer.

Geographically, we ended the quarter with 77% of our holdings in Europe, 8% in Japan and 4% in Australia. The remaining positions are in Mexico, the U.S., Indonesia, China, India, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Israel.

We continue to believe the Swiss franc and Australian dollar are overvalued versus the U.S. dollar. As a result, we defensively hedged a portion of the Fund’s exposure. Approximately 10% of the Swiss franc and 10% of the Australian dollar exposures were hedged at quarter end. 

We continue to focus on finding what we believe are attractive, undervalued international companies with management teams focused on building shareholder value. We thank you for your support.

 

David G. Herro, CFA
Portfolio Manager
oakix@oakmark.com

Michael L. Manelli, CFA
Portfolio Manager
oakix@oakmark.com

Oakmark International Fund – Investor Class
Average Annual Total Returns (03/31/17)
Since Inception (09/30/92) 9.97%
10–year 4.59%
5–year 8.98%
1–year 21.68%
3–month 9.43%
Expense Ratio as of 09/30/16 was 1.00%

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The performance data quoted represents past performance. Current performance may be lower or higher than the performance data quoted. The investment return and principal value vary so that an investor’s shares when redeemed may be worth more or less than the original cost. The  To obtain the most recent month-end performance data, view it here.

The securities mentioned above comprise the following percentages of the Oakmark International Fund’s total net assets as of 03/31/17: Glencore PLC 3.9%, Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) - Class B 2.8%, Nomura Holdings, Inc. 0%, Publicis Groupe SA 1.3% and Volvo AB 1.3%. Portfolio holdings are subject to change without notice and are not intended as recommendations of individual stocks.

Click here to access the full list of holdings for the Oakmark International Fund as of the most recent quarter-end.

The MSCI World ex U.S. Index (Net) is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed markets, excluding the U.S. This benchmark calculates reinvested dividends net of withholding taxes using Luxembourg tax rates. This index is unmanaged and investors cannot invest directly in this index.

The Fund’s portfolio tends to be invested in a relatively small number of stocks. As a result, the appreciation or depreciation of any one security held by the Fund will have a greater impact on the Fund’s net asset value than it would if the Fund invested in a larger number of securities. Although that strategy has the potential to generate attractive returns over time, it also increases the Fund’s volatility.

The percentages of hedge exposure for each foreign currency are calculated by dividing the market value of all same-currency forward contracts by the market value of the underlying equity exposure to that currency.

Investing in foreign securities presents risks that in some ways may be greater than U.S. investments. Those risks include: currency fluctuation; different regulation, accounting standards, trading practices and levels of available information; generally higher transaction costs; and political risks.

The discussion of the Fund’s investments and investment strategy (including current investment themes, the portfolio managers' research and investment process, and portfolio characteristics) represents the Fund’s investments and the views of the portfolio managers and Harris Associates L.P., the Fund’s investment adviser, at the time of this letter, and are subject to change without notice.

All information provided is as of 03/31/17 unless otherwise specified.

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CUSIP identifiers have been provided by CUSIP Global Services, managed on behalf of the American Bankers Association by Standards and Poor’s Financial Services, LLC, and are not for use or dissemination in a manner that would serve as a substitute for any CUSIP service.  The CUSIP Database, © 2011 American Bankers Association.  “CUSIP” is a registered trademark of the American Bankers Association.

Investing in value stocks presents the risk that value stocks may fall out of favor with investors and underperform growth stocks during given periods.

Before investing in any Oakmark Fund, you should carefully consider the Fund's investment objectives, risks, management fees and other expenses. This and other important information is contained in a Fund's prospectus and summary prospectus. Please read the prospectus and summary prospectus carefully before investing. For more information, please call 1-800-OAKMARK (625-6275).

OAKMARK, OAKMARK FUNDS, OAKMARK INTERNATIONAL, and OAKMARK and tree design are trademarks owned or registered by Harris Associates L.P. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

Copyright 2017, Harris Associates Securities L.P., Distributor, Member FINRA.
Date of first use: January 24, 2013.

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