Dear Fellow Wintergreen Fund Shareholder,
EXCERPT FROM THE 2016 ANNUAL REPORT SHAREHOLDER LETTER
Looking back on Wintergreen Fund, Inc.'s (the "Fund") 2016 results, two related themes stick out in bold relief. First, there's simply no sure thing in this world - no sure winner, no sure loser, no sure outcome. Because of that, investors need to be prepared for the unexpected, owning undervalued companies that can survive, if not thrive, in a broad range of market conditions. Second, every vote matters, whether shareholder or citizen. With that in mind, we at Wintergreen Advisers look for companies that respect and live by good governance. If we are invested and don't see that, there's a good chance we will ask management to change or we will ask shareholders to join us in bringing about that change. Quite literally, we are active managers. The vote matters.
The Fund had strong 2016 returns from long-term portfolio holdings Reynolds American Inc. ("Reynolds"), Birchcliff Energy Ltd., and Altria Group Inc. Securities that underperformed included Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., which the Fund sold during the year, Swatch Group AG, and Provident Financial plc. The Fund also employed forward currency contracts, which had an overall positive impact on performance during the year.
it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
- René Descartes
Let's look at some highlights for the Fund. In last year's annual letter, we noted many virtues of Reynolds as a core portfolio investment for many years. A smart management team combined Reynolds with Lorillard, Inc. in an earnings-accretive deal, creating an even more powerful cash generating business. In the process, the company increased its appeal to British American Tobacco plc ("BAT"), its largest owner with 42% of outstanding shares, as a must-own asset to fully capture opportunities in the U.S. and benefit from Reynolds's product innovations. Our belief that BAT would eventually bid for the rest of the shares came to fruition last October, resulting in a surge in the value of Reynolds, the Fund's largest holding. With an improved deal price and structure more favorable to shareholders, Reynolds agreed to the takeover in January of 2017 (closing is expected by the Adviser to occur in the third quarter of 2017). As shareholders of BAT, another top holding of the Fund, we hope to continue to collect the steady amounts of cash returned by this combined powerhouse.
Continue reading the 2016 Annual Report Shareholder Letter
View a recent listing of the Fund's Top 10 Holdings
David J. Winters, CFA
The views contained in this report are those of the Fund's portfolio manager as of December 31, 2016, and may not reflect his views on the date this report is first published or anytime thereafter. The preceding examples of specific investments are included to illustrate the Fund's investment process and strategy. There can be no assurance that such investments will remain represented in the Fund's portfolios. Holdings and allocations are subject to risks and to change. The views described herein do not constitute investment advice, are not a guarantee of future performance, and are not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security.
The Fund is subject to several risks, any of which could cause an investor to lose money. The Fund may purchase risk arbitrage securities (securities of companies involved in a restructuring) or distressed companies. These companies may not be successful in their restructuring and securities of distressed companies are generally more likely to become worthless than securities of more financially stable companies. Smaller companies involve substantial risk as these securities are traditionally more volatile in price than larger company securities. Value risk is that the securities in which the Fund invests may never reach what the Investment Manager believes are their full market values. Securities rated below investment grade, sometimes called junk bonds, involve a greater degree of risk than investment grade bonds in return for higher yield potential. The Fund may be subject to interest rate risk which is the risk that debt securities in the Fund's portfolio will decline in value because of increases in market interest rates. By participating in derivative securities, the Fund may attempt to hedge (protect) against currency risk which is the risk that the value of foreign securities may be affected by changes in currency exchange rates. Derivatives can be volatile and involve various types and degrees of risks, depending upon the characteristics of a particular derivative. International investing involves certain risks and increased volatility not associated with investing solely in the U.S. These risks include currency fluctuations, economic or financial instability, lack of timely or reliable financial information or unfavorable political or legal developments. These risks are magnified in emerging markets. As a result of appreciation of certain of the Fund's portfolio securities and/or a change in the size of the Fund, investments in a particular sector or industry may represent a significant portion of the Fund's overall portfolio. If this occurs, the Fund will be subject to greater potential risk than funds that do not have as much exposure to such sector or industry. Short sale risk is the risk that the Fund will incur an unlimited loss if the price of a security sold short increases between the time of the short sale and the time the Fund replaces the borrowed security.
In light of these risks, the Fund may not be suitable for all investors.
Before investing you should carefully consider the Fund's investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. The prospectus and summary prospectus contain this and additional information regarding the Fund. To obtain a prospectus or summary prospectus, please download from this site or call toll-free 1-888-468-6473. The prospectus and summary prospectus should be read carefully before investing. This website is not a solicitation for the Fund outside of the United States.
Foreside Fund Services, LLC, distributor (www.foreside.com)