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Published by: Investment Trust Newsletter
Written by: Andrew McHattie
We’ve had an update from James Armstrong,
the managing partner of Bluefield Partners, who
manage the Bluefield Solar Income Fund (BSIF, 121.25p). We wrote
about the trust a year ago, highlighting its attractive yield of 6.3%
and strong position against its peers. Much the same applies again
now, although that yield has edged down to 6.1% as the shares have
strengthened. It is business as usual for the trust, which is quite
focused on managing its risks as well as its 46 solar assets around the
UK. James says they have not been buying many assets lately, as the
secondary market is very competitive now that no new solar projects
are being built (following the removal of subsidies). Management
has resisted the temptation to raise more capital and go ‘asset
gathering’ at the wrong moment, when prices are high. Bluefield
entered the market at the right time in 2013 and bought well for
three years, securing a strong income stream from what James says
are “non-complex” and very predictable assets. Bluefield’s technical
team, based behind a bank of monitoring screens, ensures the solar
farms work as efficiently as they can, day in, day out, during daylight
hours. James says generation has been good during May, June and
July, although the tremendous sunshine we have been enjoying does
not make a huge difference to output. Overall, James is “pleased
with how things are going”, and like Greencoat UK Wind (UKW,
125.1p), another success story in this sector, Bluefield has prospered
by sticking to what it said it would do, and not being distracted by
more exotic growth opportunities in other countries. This is a UK
business that provides “a simple way of earning sterling income”,
James says. In the future there is potential for another wave of solar
development as the costs of technology come down, and there are
signs of this happening already in southern Europe. It may take a
while to arrive in the UK, but Bluefield may be ready to participate
again in construction projects in the next couple of years. Further
initiatives could also be assisted by favourable political will or by
developments in allied technologies such as battery storage. For
now though, we think holders should remain content to pick up
an excellent yield from what we regard as a high-quality operator.