Stock Picking Funds V’s Other funds Ok so we hear about how a fund is a stock picking fund, and that this is somehow better than other “non” stock picking funds, whatever they are. So what is a stock picking fund and why is it better? The answer is both straightforward and complex: A stock-picking fund is where the fund manager is allowed to choose which stocks he wants to hold, usually he has a broad remit and can therefore be relatively free to choose what he wants. Conversely a “non” stock picking fund is usually tied to some index, the managers job is to out perform the index that he is tied to, however, he will have to hold a large amount of that index, often this can be as much as 75% of the index itself. With this type of fund the manager will be rewarded for having outperformed the index. This is particularly important when you consider the resent market turmoil, if the index is down by say 30% and the mangers fund is only down by 28% – he has still achieved his goal, as he has still outperformed the index. With a stock picking fund there is no tie to an index, therefore the fund manager is targeted on pure performance, if his fund is down against an index it is of no relevance, if he does not perform he will not receive his bonus. Most stock picking funds have a theme, and most of them are in fact very similar “value”. There are often stock picking funds within special sectors with specific sector driven themes, such as the Jupiter ecology fund, which searches for value, but within an ethical setting. I feel the best way to explain this is to give an example. We might see in the news that a company has done something wrong and will be heavily fined (BA for example) and that this will affect its year end profits, their shares fall in value overnight, and then to compound the issue, some other bad news about the company is published, sending the shares even further down. Now due to the resources available to the fund managers, they carry out a great deal of research on the company in the back ground and establish that the company is fundamentally sound, pays a good dividend and will still report good profits, although maybe a little later than planned or often in a couple of years. With this in mind the fund manager buys into the company heavily, while the share price is depressed, feeling confident that some time later these shares will be back in vogue. He keeps them within the portfolio until they increase again in value, and then sells them. This is in a nutshell what all good stock picking funds do. A real example of this is the M&G recovery fund, some time ago Rolls Royce, were laying off large numbers of their work force, they had been struggling for some time and the news of the lay offs heavily affected their share value. However, Tom Dobell decided that there was something about RR and got involved with them, he established that they had a super new aero engine that should take the company forward, the new engine was suited to the new super airbus the A380. At that time there was one other competitor, but it looked more and more likely that RR would power the aircraft. As is often the case with Tom Dobell, he got his hands dirty and became closely involved with the management team and the restructuring of the company to help maximise the companies potential, during this time RR’s competitor dropped out of the running, which left RR with the only engine capable of powering the A380. A little later the A380 was launched with RR’s new engine, the shares in RR inevitably went up, and M&G recovery made a tidy profit for its investors. (While this synopsis lacks detail, and does not give any real sense of the work involved it gives a general overview of the situation) Even now if you look at the holdings of M&G recovery fund you will still find RR as a holding, Tom Dobell particularly is a long term investor, usually shares or prospects are considered as a 3 or 5 years holding. This in essence is what stock picking is all about; the general idea is to pick good stocks that are currently under valued. Sometimes the funds are referred to as “value” funds, in the case of M&G they refer to them as Recovery funds, in others they could be special situations or any number of designations, but each one is designed to wheedle out the good quality stocks that are undervalued. The market as it stands today, is a place full of value with large companies who’s shares are very undervalued, but how on earth would we pick which company is undervalued and which is valued correctly. Take the banks; we all have heard, all to often over the last 12 months how terrible they are, and that they won’t make any money. However, there is value in this market, but which banks are overburdened with toxic debt or massive debts to the government with repayments that will eat into the companies profits and ability to pay dividends for years? Which share prices have been pushed down not because that bank is in trouble, but because the sector is so depressed? If you asked the average man on the street if he would buy banking shares he’d probably laugh at you. If we look at Barclays, who have had no intervention from the UK government (no matter how often they were mentioned on the News as being in trouble), on March the 6th their share price was 61.4 pence, now 5 months on their share price is 344.6 pence (17/08/09 at 11:00) this represents an increase of 461%. What this means is that if you had invested £10,000 in Barclays shares on the 6th March and sold them at 11:00 today you would now have £56,100. I am not for a moment suggesting that you have £10,000 or that you ever consider direct investment in a single companies’ shares or indeed that you consider investing in Barclays, I am only aiming to highlight that there is value in a market that has fallen so significantly even in the “toxic” area of Banks. Now is the time to review your portfolio with an Independent Financial Advisor, to maximise your opportunities and ensure that you have the right balance of investments within your portfolio, and make sure that you benefit from what value there is. To arrange an appointment or for more information on these or other types of investment please contact Philip P Dales – firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 01636 706171. Or view our website, www.pndales.co.uk . IMPORTANT NOTE: The views expressed are the authors own and reflect the authors experience and the research undertaken in this area. Your own decisions should take into consideration your attitude to risk, the time span you are investing for and your personal objectives. PNDales Ltd recommends that you should always seek advice from a suitably qualified individual, such as an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) before making any decision regarding investments’. PNDales Ltd is a firm of Independent Financial Advisors and would be happy to provide tailored advice in this area. All Information Correct as at the 26th August 2009. Warning: Investments may fall as well as rise, and past performance is no guarantee of future returns. This article does not represent advice, each persons circumstance are different and the funds mentioned may not be suited to your circumstance. PNDales Ltd will not advise direct investment in shares. PNDales Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority 496107.