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Five funds to help investors through 2019

Written by: Adrian Lowcock
2019 is likely to get off to a shakier start than 2018.  Adrian Lowcock, head of personal investing, Willis Owen, looks at five funds to help investors through the New Year.

Man GLG Japan Core Alpha – Stephen Harker is a contrarian investor, looking for companies out of favour with investors. Focusing on the largest 300 listed companies in Japan, he looks for those companies that appear to be undervalued when compared with rivals. He selects those with strong fundamentals and managers and which offer the potential for a turnaround. Harker uses a rigorous, repeatable process that draws on his team’s extensive knowledge of the Japanese market. With his clear focus on value, a long-term investment horizon and disregard for the benchmark, the portfolio differs significantly versus the stock market index.

Lazard Emerging Markets – James Donald’s insights are a key advantage for this fund. The team taps into Lazard’s deep pool of analytical resources, helping it to form views on different companies and industries. Each team member spends more than eight weeks meeting with company managements and local experts. The focus is on firms with improving financial productivity that has been overlooked by the market. An initial screen uses a range of valuation metrics to filter the universe. The analysts then conduct detailed research to understand the drivers of a company’s profitability. They pay particular attention to cash flow and its impact on the balance sheet and shareholder value.

Investec UK Alpha – Simon Brazier blends fundamental company research with economic analysis and believes that a clear understanding of the thematic background is essential. He then meets company managers, which he sees as key to his approach. His assessment of a company management’s track record, strategy, and allocation of free cash flow are vital parts of the research framework, alongside a thorough valuation analysis that considers both the upside potential and downside risk of any investment. The manager’s approach is flexible and pragmatic and he constantly seeks to balance out the risk/reward opportunities not only at the individual stock level but, more importantly, at an overall fund level.

JP Morgan Global Macro – The team believes that global social and economic trends are the main drivers of returns for asset classes and they look to identify and exploit these with the aim of delivering positive returns in all conditions while prioritising capital preservation. James Elliot and Shrenick Shah have an aggressive target of cash plus 7%. To achieve this the managers have taken more risk than peers and are willing to allocate assets aggressively. The managers’ more nimble decision-making approach and effective use of other JPM teams are behind the timely allocation changes and strong stock-selection. Their decisions are often taken ad hoc following across-the-desk discussions rather than informal committee meetings.

First State Global Listed Infrastructure – This fund invests in companies that are mainly listed in developed markets and involved in various areas of infrastructure, including Energy, Communications and Transport. These sectors tend to be defensive in nature and have reliable income-generating characteristics. The team is led by Peter Meany, who launched the strategy in 2007.  The managers invest in infrastructure companies that are priced below their true worth. Meany likes companies that provide essential services because these can often raise prices in line with inflation without causing a drop in demand. This should help generate a regular income.

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