Wellcome releases 2018/19 annual results

Wellcome Trust and Wellcome Trust Finance plc, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Wellcome Trust Limited as trustee of the Wellcome Trust, announce that they have each published their Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year to 30 September 2019 today. 

 

Wellcome Trust is pleased to report that our investment portfolio recorded a total return of 6.9% per cent, or 4.9% after inflation, for the year to 30 September 2019. Charitable expenditure in support of our mission was £1,130 million and the investment base rose to approximately £26.8 billion.

We have returned 209% per cent cumulative (12.0% per cent annualised) in the decade since September 2009, recording positive returns in each of these years. Returns have been 414% per cent cumulative (8.5% per cent annualised) over 20 years. Since the inception of our investment portfolio in 1985, it has provided a total return averaging 13.7% per cent a year. 

We maintain a AAA/aaa (stable) credit rating. Leverage stood at 7.8% at 30th September. There were no new bond issues during the financial year.

On the back of this performance, we aim to maintain the real level of charitable spending for our core activities at current record levels at least until 2022. We have committed an extra £100 million for largescale, high-impact activities, to be drawn down over five years to fund current and future activities including priority areas such as Snakebites and Mental Health. We will continue to review future allocations in the light of the performance of the endowment and the pipeline of projects suitable for funding.

We saw positive returns in each of the asset classes in which we invest (public equity, private equity, venture capital, hedge funds and property). All have maintained their strong long-term track records. Sterling weakness was a significant tailwind to returns this year. Our Sterling exposure remained close to our minimum 15% level throughout the period given political uncertainties.

Baroness Manningham-Buller, Chair of the Wellcome Trust, said: "It is pleasing to report another year of gains, albeit modest, over a period that has seen significant political, economic and market turmoil. The strong long-term performance of the investment portfolio has provided Wellcome with the means to double our annual charitable spending over the past decade. We are grateful to the Investment Team for making this possible."

Nick Moakes, Chief Investment Officer and Managing Partner of the Investment Division at Wellcome, added: "The portfolio has performed well in challenging macro circumstances.  Interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve Bank may have helped prolong the economic cycle, but this has not changed our view that we need to prepare for lower returns than we have enjoyed over the past decade.  We are more focused on the assets in the portfolio than the broad market backdrop.  We have taken action to weed out low conviction positions to ensure that there will be ample liquidity to fund the mission, even in a more difficult environment."

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