Effective November 27, 2021, the deferred sales charge and low load sales charge purchase options will no longer be available for purchase on Sun Life Global Investments mutual funds. Switches between funds of the same sales charge purchase option will be permitted.

JPM International Equity

Fund commentary | Q1 2021

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Opinions and commentary provided by JPMorgan Asset Management.

Market review

Global equities rallied in the first quarter of 2021 in part due to declining Covid-19 cases, progress in vaccine rollouts and sizable U.S. fiscal stimulus. Though the effect of rising bond yields weighed on equities during the latter half of the quarter, markets took solace in the better-than-expected economic indicators. In the Eurozone, business activity fell in January as companies continued to struggle amidst the ongoing pandemic and related restrictions. However, as global demand continued to revive, factories ramped up output in March and the flash manufacturing PMI strengthened. The UK witnessed a rapid recovery supported by a swift vaccine rollout and the flash composite PMI rose to a seven-month high. Developed markets outperformed emerging markets over the quarter. Crude oil prices rallied during the quarter supported by optimism around demand recovery. Among equities, value stocks outperformed growth stocks as investors piled in to cyclical sectors that were out of favor previously in the year.

Portfolio review

The portfolio underperformed its benchmark in the first quarter of 2021. At a sector level, stock selection in consumer staples and financials detracted from performance, while stock selection in materials and an underweight to health care contributed to performance. At the region level, stock selection in Canada and continental Europe detracted from performance, while an underweight to the Pacific Rim was the sole contributor to performance. 

Outlook

While economic growth in the first half of 2021 will continue to be impeded by the pandemic, the latter part of the year should see significant upside in consumption as vaccines are rolled out globally and pent-up demand is unleashed. Accordingly, we see earnings for global corporations rebounding over this year to nearly their pre-pandemic levels. Cyclically geared markets, sectors and companies, which have been in the eye of the storm, are likely to benefit, but it is crucial to differentiate cyclical from structural headwinds and tailwinds as the recovery takes shape. While several expectations are priced in, historical experience shows that the potential for growth from a rebounding economy can often be underestimated. The pace of year-over-year inflation may stay elevated throughout the rest of the year and into 2022, reflecting the impact of surging demand and supply bottlenecks. Even though this could mean further increase in long-term interest rates in the months ahead, the portfolio manager believes it reflects confidence in the economic rebound which should prove to be a tailwind for equities.

Significant impacts on performance

Contributors

+  ASML

The Dutch photolithography supplier to the semiconductor industry aided returns. The company reported positive fourth-quarter results, including better-than-expected margins and revenues. In addition, management raised guidance for its extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) machine. The stock was also buoyed as U.S. company Intel announced increased capital expenditure plans, from which ASML will benefit.

+  Anglo American

The U.K. mining company contributed to performance. Anglo American reported strong full-year results, showcasing a strong balance sheet and free cash flow generation amid a very positive environment for commodity prices. The company also benefited from investors moving to more economically sensitive areas of the market in response to rising expectations for growth this year.

Detractors

▬    Unilever

The British multinational consumer goods company detracted from returns. While the company reported solid fourth-quarter results, its stock fell on the back of concerns about rising costs.

▬    London Stock Exchange Group

The stock exchange detracted as the company disappointed with its recent cost and revenue guidance. This left investors looking for more clarity on the integration of Refinitiv, which was recently acquired.

Fund performance

Compound returns %1 Since inception2 1 year Q1
Sun Life JPMorgan International Equity Fund - Series A 7.2 29.0 0.3
Sun Life JPMorgan International Equity Fund - Series F 8.4 30.5 0.6
MSCI ACWI ex US Index 6.1 31.9 2.1

1Returns for periods longer than one year are annualized. Data as of March 31, 2021.

2Partial calendar year. Returns are for the period from the fund’s inception date of July 20, 2018 to December 31, 2018.

Views expressed are those of JPMorgan Asset Management (Canada) Inc., sub-advisor to select Sun Life mutual funds for which

SLGI Asset Management Inc. acts as portfolio manager. Views expressed regarding a particular company, security, industry or market sector should not be considered an indication of trading intent of any mutual funds managed by SLGI Asset Management Inc. These views are not to be considered as investment advice nor should they be considered a recommendation to buy or sell. This commentary is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to provide specific individual financial, investment, tax or legal advice. Information contained in this commentary has been compiled from sources believed to be reliable, but no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made with respect to its timeliness or accuracy.

This commentary may contain forward-looking statements about the economy and markets, their future performance, strategies or prospects or events and are subject to uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and are speculative in nature and cannot be relied upon.

Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutual fund investments. Investors should read the prospectus before investing. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.  The indicated rates of return are the historical annual compounded total returns including changes in security value and reinvestment of all distributions and do not take into account sales, redemption, distribution or other optional charges or income taxes payable by any security holder that would have reduced returns. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.

While Series A and Series F securities have the same reference portfolio, any difference in performance between these series is due primarily to differences in management fees and operating fees. The management fee for Series A securities also includes the trailing commission, while Series F securities does not. Series A securities of the fund are available for purchase to all investors, while Series F securities are only available to investors in an eligible fee-based or wrap program with their registered dealer. Investors in Series F securities may pay a separate fee-based account fee that is negotiated with and payable to their registered dealer.

Sun Life Global Investments is a trade name of SLGI Asset Management Inc., Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada and Sun Life Financial Trust Inc. SLGI Asset Management Inc. is the investment manager of the Sun Life Mutual Funds, Sun Life Granite Managed Solutions and Sun Life Private Investment Pools. 

© SLGI Asset Management Inc. and its licensors, 2021. SLGI Asset Management Inc. is a member of the Sun Life group of companies. All rights reserved