At Birch Hill, we seek to serve our clients on an individualized basis, recognizing their personal circumstances, tolerance for risk, and short- and long-term goals. Within that context, we use a deliberate investment process that we’ve developed and refined over the course of our many years as investment managers, and to which we adhere tenaciously. With an overriding goal of building high quality, growth-oriented portfolios, the process is distinguished by its:
Emphasis on personal research conducted by individual investment managers and supplemented by internal and third-party analysis
Concentration in large- and mid-cap stocks of U.S.-based companies primarily
Focus on companies that have a position in their industry that gives them a clear sustainable advantage – or, to quote Warren Buffett, those that are separated from their competitors by “wide economic moats”
On-going review to ensure that the 65 or so companies that are included on our Research List deserve to be there and continue to warrant inclusion over time
Commitment to making stock purchases only when we believe the reward-to-risk ratio for any given position is clearly in our clients’ favor
The Birch Hill Investment Process in Action
If you were to find yourself in Birch Hill’s main conference room on any Tuesday morning throughout the year, this is what you’d see:
A meeting that begins promptly at 9:15 is attended by our investment managers and equity analysts. For over half of our clients, we build and manage fixed income portfolios whose purpose is capital preservation and income generation. So the first order of business is a weekly update on interest rates – corporate bonds, Treasuries, and municipal bonds, among others.
From here the meeting moves quickly to the subject of equity investments. One of the managers is reporting on recent activities associated with a publicly traded company he has been following closely for some time. Since Birch Hill’s investment managers are agnostic in their focus, the company under review may have come from virtually any sector – technology, healthcare, industrials, consumer products, and so on.
On this particular morning, the company is in the healthcare sector, and the investment manager reaffirms his thesis – that it continues to merit a buy recommendation. He walks the group through a brief he has prepared providing fundamental developments and performance data since he reported on the company last quarter. It remains on the list of companies Birch Hill managers typically choose from to construct client portfolios. This is known as the “Guideline Portfolio List.”
Next, a research analyst draws the attention of the group to a new name – one he suggests belongs on the Research List. Companies typically reach Research List status before they move to the Portfolio List, if they ever do. The point is, the company has attracted the attention of the analyst, who has spent many hours over the last several weeks evaluating it closely, and he wants to see it given a larger hearing.
The analyst goes over specifics with the group – what the company does, the market it competes in, who its competitors are, its fundamental financial characteristics. After this, a discussion takes place to determine if this is a company that meets Birch Hill’s standards and warrants further review.
The meeting continues in the same vein – companies being exposed to constant monitoring to determine whether they are investment worthy. At Birch Hill, our turnover rate is low – typically less than 20% annually – so we are very particular about which stocks get the group’s endorsement.
The meeting concludes an hour or more after it started, and our investment managers and equity analysts leave invigorated by the discussion and ready for the day.