12 fund managers to watch in December

Fund managers receiving their first or improved Citywire ratings this month

Stuart Parks - AA rated 

Sector: Equities – Asia Pacific ex-Japan

Fund: Quilter Investors Asia Pacific Equity

Stuart Parks has matched the index pretty closely with his Asia Pacific Equity fund, with top holdings in financial services and technology. Where he is overweight versus the benchmark is in basic materials, with an 11.7% holding compared with the index’s 7.3%, reflecting his positive outlook for global growth.

The fund’s largest holding is in Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC), which makes the chips for Apple’s iPhone. Apple has been dealt a blow recently by fears the iPhone market has peaked, which is bad news for TSMC as it is an important customer for the chipmaker.

Stuart Parks - AA rated 

Sector: Equities – Asia Pacific ex-Japan

Fund: Quilter Investors Asia Pacific Equity

Stuart Parks has matched the index pretty closely with his Asia Pacific Equity fund, with top holdings in financial services and technology. Where he is overweight versus the benchmark is in basic materials, with an 11.7% holding compared with the index’s 7.3%, reflecting his positive outlook for global growth.

The fund’s largest holding is in Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC), which makes the chips for Apple’s iPhone. Apple has been dealt a blow recently by fears the iPhone market has peaked, which is bad news for TSMC as it is an important customer for the chipmaker.

Lydia So - + rated

Sector: Equities – Asia Pacific Small & Medium Companies

Fund: Matthews Asia Fds-Asia Small Companies

Manager Lydia So is overweight China and Hong Kong, with 33.7% allocated to the countries compared with the benchmark’s 22%. Although the going has been good, So says the fund’s China holdings posed the biggest drag on performance this quarter ‘due to factors including tariffs, negative surprises form government policies and heightened bearishness towards China’s economy’.

She highlighted Chinese company Silergy as a performance detractor because of supply-chain-related issues. This company makes up part of the fund’s information technology holding, which is the largest sector allocation at 22.1%, also above the benchmark’s allocation of 17.8%. But So believes Silergy is ‘still well-positioned to benefit from China’s local sourcing strategy for semiconductor products’.

Adam Osborn - A rated

Sector: Equities – Asia Pacific ex-Japan

Fund: Schroder AS Asian Long Term Value

With his fund launched in October 2015, Adam Osborn is now eligible for his first Citywire rating. Alongside co-manager Citywire A-rated Robin Parbrook, Osborn currently holds 31 stocks in his Asian Long Term Value fund. The fund has a significant overweight to Hong Kong, at 45.8% compared with the benchmark’s 9%. Investment in real estate in the country will have been fruitful for the manager as Hong Kong’s real estate boom continues. 

Despite this significant overweight to one country, the portfolio is firmly on the defensive end of the spectrum within Asia Pacific ex-Japan portfolios, with an annualised standard deviation a third lower than the market. This has led it to markedly outperform since sentiment turned negative on emerging market equities at the start of the year.

Mark Asquith - AA rated

Sector: Equity - Global Emerging Markets Smaller Companies

Fund: MI Somerset Emerging Markets Small Cap

In a sector that has had a difficult year after falling into bear market territory, Mark Asquith is one of the few managers who has managed to rise in our ratings, earning an AA rating for the first time in his 10 years managing the fund. Down 7.3% over 12 months, versus the average manager in the sector’s 12.4%, his fund has avoided the worst of the emerging market’s bearish run. This is reflective of Asquith’s defensive positioning and means he now tops the sector over three years.

The portfolio holds around 45 stocks, including a top holding, 4.9%, in Sunny Friend Environmental Technology, a Taiwan-based waste disposal company. This contributes to the fund’s 18.9% holding in the industrials sector, which is slightly overweight the benchmark’s 14.2%.

Jeremy Humphries - + rated

Sector: Equity - Global Small & Medium Companies

Fund: Davy Discovery Equity

Having joined his co-manager, Citywire + rated Chantal Brennan, on the Davy Discovery Equity fund in November 2015, Jeremy Humphries is now eligible for his first rating. The fund is overweight information technology, at 20.5%, compared with the benchmark’s 14.3%. This has helped, as the technology sector was the fund’s top performer for the quarter. A notable contributor was American semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

‘AMD has been one of the fund’s top performers year to date, rising by 107.2% as investors began to fully appreciate the opportunities for AMD’s central processing units and graphics processing units in data centres,’ Humphries said in an update on 16 October 2018. Technology took a pounding in October, but the managers have stayed ahead of the benchmark over three years, which is no mean feat in this sector.

Peter Leger - A rated

Sector: Equity - Africa

Funds: Coronation Africa, Coronation Africa Frontiers

Peter Leger manages two funds in the African equities sector, achieving a slightly better performance, 44.1%, for the Coronation Africa Frontiers fund over three years. This fund compares favourably with the Dow Jones Africa Titans index benchmark of the 50 largest countries on the continent. Last month Leger celebrated its 10th year of investing in Africa, an area in which long track records are extremely rare. In fact, he has the fifth longest track record in the peer group worldwide.

In a September statement, Leger reflected on the past 10 years navigating the 2009 Nigerian banking crisis, the 2011 Libyan civil war, the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and more. Looking ahead to the next 10 years, Leger remains positive, particularly on Egypt, where the fund has a 31% weighting, compared with the benchmark’s 11%.

Amy Zhang - AAA rated

Sector: Equity - US Small & Medium Companies

Fund: Alger SICAV-Alger Small Cap Focus

Amy Zhang is senior vice-president and portfolio manager at Fred Alger Management. She started managing her first fund in February 2015 and gained her first Citywire rating, a + rating, this year. Since then she has quickly risen through the ratings to gain AAA status in November. Zhang has a much longer track record in US small caps outside the UK, and her rating has been derived from her global performance. Zhang’s style is defensive and that has seen her strongly outperform over the past three months as markets entered a torrid run (illustrated by the three-month data, right).

At the end of October, its biggest holding was Tandem Diabetes Care (4%), which develops insulin pumps and other products that help manage the condition. In fact there are several healthcare stocks on its top-10 list.

Mark Redfearn - AAA rated

Sector: Bonds - US Dollar Corporates

Fund: EastSpring Investments-US Corporate Bond

An economics and political science graduate, Redfearn is the lead portfolio manager for investment grade fixed income portfolios with PPM America’s Asian affiliates. As a US corporate bond fund manager, Redfearn’s outperformance has been purely a matter of falling less quickly than his peers.

Over the last 12-month period, Redfearn’s fund lost 4.5%. That puts him 12th out of 21 in the sector. The best performer is Charles S. Sanford, the Citywire AAA-rated manager of the Baring US Investment Grade Corporate Bond fund, which recorded a positive return of 0.6%. At the bottom was Citywire + rated Lou Cohen, manager of the Nordea 1 US Corporate Bond fund. US corporate bonds have had their worst run since February this year, as yields have shot up on the back of rising Federal Reserve interest rates.

Damien Marichal - AAA rated

Sector: Property - European Equity

Fund: DPAM Invest Real Estate Europe (Petercam)

Brussels-based Damien Marichal has been with Degroof Petercam since 1995. The DPAM Invest Real Estate Europe fund was not immune to October’s market corrections, falling 2.95% in the month, though listed real estate was one of the least affected sectors in Europe. The fund’s report for the month indicates what stood Marichal in good stead. During the month the fund benefited from the flotation of self-storage company Shurgard and the equity placement of another holding, WDP, a warehouse and distribution centre business.

However, its best performer, Intu, has had a change in fortunes recently. News a consortium was considering a bid for the shopping centre owner at 210.4p per share boosted performance. But only last week the £2.8 billion takeover bid by Peel Group was abandoned, causing its shares to plunge 39%.

Nigel Yates – A rated

Sector: Equity - UK (All Companies)

Fund: NFU Mutual UK Growth

Nigel Yates has moved up the Citywire ratings this month due to the recent outperformance of his fund, NFU Mutual UK Growth, which previously tracked the FTSE All-Share closely.

Yates’ fund was the best-selling active strategy in October in the Investment Association UK All Companies sector, at £216 million. All five of the fund’s top holdings are large companies: energy giants BP and Shell, HSBC bank, drinks company Diageo and financial services company Prudential. These companies have been shunned in recent years as investors have moved away from defensive equities, but with many now seen as a value investment, a gloomier economic outlook should mean they outperform. This is not to say it is a defensive fund, but it appears to have struck a balance between all-out growth and value.

Oliver Kelton – A rated

Sector: Equity - Europe excluding UK

Fund: LF Odey Continental European

Oliver Kelton has been managing the LF Odey Continental European fund in the Europe ex-UK sector since 2015. This makes him eligible for the first time for a Citywire rating on this fund this year, and on the Odey European Focus fund he runs in the Equity - Europe sector.

The Continental European fund’s holdings data runs to the end of August this year and includes a French bond at 10.3%. In utilities, where Kelton has 28% allocated, he holds Électricité de France (EDF), an electricity and gas supplier largely owned by the French state. It is an interesting time for EDF, with French president Emmanuel Macron announcing plans last month to reduce nuclear power in the country from 75% to 50%. A restructuring of the company could be on the cards.

Jing Ning – AA rated

Sector: Equity - China

Fund: Fidelity Funds - China Focus

Last week’s truce in the trade dispute between China and the US is likely to benefit Asia’s stock markets. But Fidelity manager Jing Ning was not worried, even back in the summer when the US imposed a $34 billion (£27 billion) tariff on Chinese goods. Her fund has outperformed the benchmark over three years and stands in good stead as we move into the new year.

It is underweight the benchmark in consumer discretionary, 13.9% compared with the index’s 19.2%, reflecting the hard times the sector has felt since fears over Chinese and trade tensions surfaced earlier this year. One holding it does have in the sector though, albeit at 5.5% compared with the index’s 10.1%, is Alibaba, which last week announced it would be opening its first e-commerce trade hub in Europe.

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Related Fund Managers

Peter Leger
Peter Leger
3/14 in Equity - Africa (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 38.83%
Mark Asquith
Mark Asquith
7/17 in Equity - Global Emerging Markets Smaller Companies (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 39.56%
Nigel Yates
Nigel Yates
11/166 in Equity - UK (All Companies) (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 38.4%
Damien Marichal
Damien Marichal
5/11 in Property - European Equity (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 27.29%
Jeremy Humphries
Jeremy Humphries
13/36 in Equity - Global Small & Medium Companies (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 48.67%
Jing Ning
Jing Ning
14/35 in Equity - China (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 69.37%
Lydia So
Lydia So
5/18 in Equity - Asia Pacific Small & Medium Companies (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 33.26%
Mark Redfearn
Mark Redfearn
4/8 in Bonds - US Dollar Corporates (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 5.96%
Amy Zhang
Amy Zhang
2/80 in Equity - US Small & Medium Companies (Performance over 1 year) Average Total Return: 35.85%
Oliver Kelton
Oliver Kelton
33/95 in Equity - Europe Excluding UK (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 31.09%
Stuart Parks
Stuart Parks
27/150 in Equity - Asia Pacific Excluding Japan (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 59.29%
Adam Osborn
Adam Osborn
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