I love the smell of market volatility in the morning, when stocks, funds and investment trusts I admire suddenly became available at knock-down prices. What's that hitting my nostrils? You might call it the sweet smell of long-term investment success.
The Scottish play
When the stock market sell-off was at its most intense this morning, with the FTSE 100 down almost 3%, one opportunity in particular caught my eye. The most excellent global investment trust Scottish Mortgage Trust(LSE: SMT) was down 5.56%, one of the biggest fallers on the index.
The main reason for the £6.23bn behemoth's sharp drop is its relatively high exposure to the US, with 46.6% in North American equities, and the Dow Jones just suffering its largest ever single-day point fall. The trust is also 22.7% invested in China, and Asia was selling off too.
Class is permanent
There is nothing wrong with this broadly diversified one-stop investment portfolio which boasts a tremendous performance record and low ongoing charges of just 0.44% a year. I was singing its praises last July, after it had just posted its 34th consecutive annual dividend increase. It is just as good today as it was then. The only difference is that it is cheaper than it was a few days ago.
Despite today's drop, the fund is still a whopping 188% higher than it was five years ago. It is up 30% in the past 12 months. This teaches us another lesson: temporary falls inflict less damage than you think. In the long run, stock markets shrug them off. Scottish Mortgage was launched way back in 1909, and on such a timeline today's setback does not even qualify as a minor blip. It is, however, a major opportunity. Especially if today's fragrant market volatility continues, and it gets even cheaper.
Last September, my Foolish colleague Peter Stephens praised another top-performing global investment company fund, Witan Investment Trust(LSE: WTN), also launched in 1909. It has done almost as well as Scottish Mortgage over the past five years, rising 111% in that time. That may be down to its higher UK exposure, with just over a third invested in domestic equities at a time when other global markets have done better. It also has around 20% invested in Europe and a similar figure in the US, and 14% in Asia-Pacific.
Witan was down 2.68% at its worst this morning, yet was still up 17% on a year ago. Short-term market swings say nothing about the fund itself, but again, present an opportunity. Until recently it was trading at a small premium, now it trades at a discount of 3.12%. So it's cheaper than it was, but just as good. Manager Andrew Bell's turnaround plan, which has seen the trust adopt a multi-manager approach with a dozen managers following different mandates, has borne fruit.
Witan also has an impressive dividend track record and although the current 1.95% yield is low, there has been plenty of progression, and I expect more to come. Buy Witan or Scottish Mortgage today and hold for decades. You will soon forget today's dip, but your portfolio will benefit from it for years to come.
Taking advantage of falling share prices can help to make you brilliantly rich and give you the financial independence you crave.
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Harvey Jones has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.