Swiss Helvetia Fund is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SWZ. The fund has always been managed by a subsidiary of Banque Hottinger, a Swiss private bank that was founded during the French revolution to protect the assets of fleeing French noblemen. The Banque specializes in maintaining and managing private wealth for wealth individuals and families.
Although SWZ invests only in Swiss based companies, these companies have a global presence throughout the world. This is not an index fund but a highly specialized fund. Its largest holdings are as follows:
|Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS)||4.50%|
As of December 31, 2012, SWZ had assets of $402,279,562 with nominal cash and 3.56% being invested in private placements. SWZ holds its investments for a long time and as a result its securities portfolio of $400,381,227 has a cost basis of $283,947,885. This is a substantial amount of unrealized gains which one day will become a tax liability, when liquidated.
The fund presently sells at approximately a 13% discount from its net asset value which only makes it more attractive. In pages 10 -11 of its current annual report, SWZ compares its performance to seven (7) different indexes. Basically, it underperformed in the past 2 years but has done mostly well since its inception in 1997.
The five year ratios show slightly elevated expenses, decent investing income and average turnover, as follows:
|Net Expenses||Investment Income||Portfolio Turnover|
SWZ owns shares of companies which few of us have in our portfolios, even if some are leaders in their fields. Switzerland as a small country, has successfully nurtured global companies that can sell their products and render their services anywhere in the world. Many, such as Roche and Novartis, two large pharmaceutical concerns, are actively enlarging their platforms in Asia and Africa.
SWZ has true quality management and is in strong hands. It is an opportunity to obtain exposure to different securities at a nice discount. Over its life, performance has been fine. SWZ should be in all portfolios.