Ideas for the ISA season: Marcus Brookes, head of multi-manager at Schroders
“We continue to favour European and Japanese equities over the US. Although we are bullish on the US economy, most of the good news appears to already be priced in to the stockmarket.
“We suspect returns from the US market relative to other markets will be less appealing from here, given broad valuations, whereas people are still pretty bearish in their view on the European and Japanese markets and we think they need to upgrade them. You find relatively cheap valuations there, and this is where our multi-manager portfolios are currently overweight.
“There would appear to be greater upside potential in Europe than the US, although its macroeconomic backdrop and politics clearly make further volatility possible. The Japanese market has similar dynamics to Europe, with an accommodative central bank and relatively attractive valuations.”
“A Japanese equity fund we have long favoured is GLG Japan Core Alpha, managed with a large cap, value approach by Stephen Harker. He is a highly experienced manager who is contrarian by nature and unafraid to express his views with large sector over- and underweights.”
“One of the European funds we hold is Schroder European Alpha Income, managed by our Schroders colleague James Sym. He is currently very positive on the outlook for certain European equities and thinks that this year European corporate profits will grow faster than in the US, driving the next phase of share price gains.”
“In the UK we like Majedie UK Income and we increased our holding in it in early 2015. It is managed by Chris Reid, a manager we have followed for some time, and the fund has recently achieved its three-year track record. Chris Reid’s style is based on high conviction, active stockpicking, underpinned by in-depth and detailed analysis. Most recently the fund has benefited from having limited exposure to the struggling energy sector.”
“We have long had a negative stance on bonds and this has not changed, despite continued good performance from the asset class last year. Interest rates of zero look increasingly less appropriate as economic conditions improve, particularly in the US. The improving economic conditions suggest base rates will go up this year, and the bond market should be pricing in a different environment.
“A fund we like is JPM Income Opportunity Plus, which is an unconventional fixed income fund with a flexible absolute return approach. The fund manager Bill Eigen can invest in a wide variety of fixed income markets and is able to gain short exposure to duration (interest rate sensitivity). In other words, the fund can profit from an environment of rising interest rates”.