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Baillie Gifford stumbles at finish after leading pack in 2018

Baillie Gifford stumbles at finish after leading pack in 2018

Funds run by Edinburgh manager Baillie Gifford were knocked from the top of the performance charts at the end of last year, halting a long-winning run for the growth-focused investors.

Six funds run by the group have lost the rare status of having delivered performance in the top quarter of their sectors in each of the previous three 12-month periods.

Fund group BMO Global Asset Management examines which funds have delivered such a track record in its quarterly FundWatch study of the 12 biggest Investment Association sectors.

In its latest report, it has found that at the end of 2018, just six of the 1,108 funds analysed had attained that feat.

That's a big drop from the 19 that boasted such a track record at the end of September. 

'Our analysis showed that the last quarter of 2018 was challenging for active management as the vicious rotation in markets and asset prices created a torrid investment environment,' said Kelly Prior, investment manager in BMO's multi-manager team.

'With a massive risk-off rush in December, profit taking in the growth darlings was replaced by the need for safety and the perceived security of government bonds and staple equity sectors.'

Six Baillie Gifford funds were among the 19 to lose their consistent top quartile status as the stock market slump singled out the growth stocks the Edinburgh group favours for particular punishment.

Baillie Gifford Global Alpha Growth, the £4.2 billion open-ended version of the Monks investment trust, ended outside the top quarter of the Investment Association's Global sector over 12 months, down 5.8%.

So, too, did the £979 million Baillie Gifford International, a similar fund but excluding UK exposure, down 5.2% over the year.

Baillie Gifford European edged into the bottom half of its sector, down 13.1% in 2018, as did Baillie Gifford Emerging Markets Leading Companies, down 11.8%, and Baillie Gifford Japanese, down 13.1%.

Baillie Gifford American suffered a difficult second half of 2018 but still topped the sector for the year, up 12.2%. Citywire AA-rated Tom Slater's fund lost its consistent status due to a lacklustre 2016 calender year.

It's worth pointing out, however, that all six funds have rebounded strongly since the turn of the year, and all sit comfortably towards the top of their sectors over three years.

Baillie Gifford has, meanwhile, criticised rival fund managers for their focus on short-term and quarterly performance in its 'actual investing' campaign, so is unlikely to have been moved by its funds' fall down the charts at the back end of 2018.

Only three funds have maintained their consistent top quarter status since BMO's previous report, and all are UK smaller company funds: Jupiter UK Smaller Companies, Amati UK Smaller Companies and Cavendish AIM.

Three are new entrants to the list: Royal London Ethical Bond, Pimco GIS European Long Average Duration and Miton European Opportunities.

Carlos Moreno and Thomas Brown's £364.5 million Miton fund made it onto BMO's list at the first time of asking, having launched in December 2015 and only just racking up the required three-year track record.

Moreno and Brown have meanwhile sailed into Citywire's rating straight at the top with triple-A status for both, delivering 66.7% since launching the fund, topping the Investment Association's Europe ex-UK sector.

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