Globe trotting brings results
CREDIT Lyonnais International Asset Management fund manager Julia Sze is based in San Francisco, which might sound an odd place from which to manage an award-winning Far East fund.
Nonetheless, the CL Pacific Growth Fund has taken top place in the five-year Far East and Pacific equities category, vindicating CL's strategy of distant management.
Ms Sze also manages the Lion Fortune Asian Growth Fund and acts as country specialist for Australia and New Zealand.
'I make at least four trips a year to visit all the countries I'm invested in,' Ms Sze said. 'I see an average of 40 companies per visit and have an occasional conference in New York which adds several more to the list.
'My funds are very concentrated, with generally between 35 and 40 stocks in the portfolio.
'That gives me plenty of time and brain space to focus on the sectors and industries I favour: infrastructure, consumption, and financial services.' Being away from a desk with phone calls and other distractions meant she could spend more time on research and longer-term strategy, she said.
Ms Sze also stays in touch through weekly meetings with her market specialist colleagues on the ground in Singapore and Hong Kong.
The Pacific Growth Fund has consistently underweighted Japan versus its weighting in the MSCI Pacific Index.
'This has proved remarkably profitable,' Ms Sze said. 'As a growth manager, I am convinced compelling growth stories are much more likely to be found in the Asia, excluding Japan, region, rather than on the Nikkei 225.
'Going forward, I don't anticipate any change in our low Japan weighting.' As to the rest of Asia, Ms Sze said the 'party days' of easy returns in 1993 were over and managers would need to work harder.
'From a growth stock standpoint, I continue to be very positive on Indonesia and the Philippines.' Because of their size, Hong Kong and Malaysia would probably remain among the top three country investments, Ms Sze said.