2022 has been a tough year for growth stocks. It’s only natural that investment trusts that target growth stocks have taken a beating too. Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust (LSE: SMT) is a prime example of this. The high-growth trust performed well in 2020 and 2021 but has fallen over 36% so far in 2022. Widening this timespan to 12 months, and the shares have fallen an equally disappointing 39%. So, currently sat at 822p, is the stock a bargain buy? Or should I steer clear of Baillie Gifford’s flagship investment trust? Let’s investigate.
The story so far
To understand why the stock has fallen, we must cast our minds back to the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. In an effort to remedy the economic shutdown, central banks across the world poured billions into economies to keep them afloat. At the same time, the virus disrupted supply chains. This meant there was less supply, but people had more money (on a macro scale) to spend on the same goods. The result of this – rising prices.
Fast forward to 2022, and inflation has been reaching sky-high levels. To make things worse, the tragic Russia-Ukraine crisis has sent energy prices soaring, adding to inflationary pressures. Now central banks are faced with a new task: to slow down rising prices. They do this by increasing interest rates.
When interest rates increase, investors withdraw their money from higher-risk, speculative assets like growth stocks, and put them into safer assets. This is because they can earn a better risk-free rate. Interest rates in the UK and US have been on the rise recently, the former sitting at 1.75%.
Scottish Mortgage’s main holdings are exactly the type of stocks that are being negatively affected by this kind of market. For example, its top two holdings Moderna (8.3%) and Tesla (6.7%) have fallen 39% and 28% so far in 2022. Many analysts are predicting inflation to keep rising, which likely means that rates will too. If this does happen, it would be bad news for Scottish Mortgage shares.
A long-term play
Here at The Motley Fool, we are long-term investors. That means picking quality stocks and holding them for up to 10 years. Scottish Mortgage operates with the same thesis. It looks to “add value over five-year time frames, preferably much longer” and explicitly states that it doesn’t “add much more than anyone else in the short term”. So, perhaps I should be discounting the current volatility, and be operating with more of a long-term view, trusting the fund’s management.
I only have to check on the trust’s previous returns to see this management in action. Over the last five years it has returned 118%, and over the last 10 years, a whopping 606%. This vastly outperforms the FTSE All World Index, which is the stock’s benchmark.
Am I buying?
I’m not buying just yet though. I think in today’s macro climate, a growth-focused trust is too risky for me. However, I will be keeping this stock on my watch list as I think it could have the potential to yield some big returns over a 10-year span.