F&C's Doel wary of UK consumer stocks
F&C Investments' £189.1m UK Equity Income manager Phil Doel has said he is retaining a cautious outlook and focusing on stocks exposed to emerging markets.
Mr Doel said he remains cautious on the UK, mainly due to the pressures facing consumers.
He said: "The low-point for the UK consumer is about now, so I am avoiding stocks that are UK consumer orientated."
The manager said he was keeping an eye on the sector, and could revisit some companies within the next two months.
The manager is also remaining underweight banks, although he continues to favour life insurance and non-life insurance names.
Financials is the largest sector weighting in the fund, accounting for 23.9 per cent, with banking giant HSBC the largest holding, accounting for 4.6 per cent, the third largest individual stock holding.
"Why go through banks which are yielding the same as insurance companies, but carry more risk and are also currently subject to a lot of regulation and politics?" he said.
"I only hold HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank because they are global banks and have capital behind them."
The manager is focusing on mega-cap names with quality balance sheets that "would not struggle going into a downturn".
In recent months he has shifted up the market-capitalisation scale, and has been adding to positions such as pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, which is now the largest individual holding, accounting for 6.23 per cent of the fund.
The company has a strong focus on emerging regions including Africa.
"Emerging markets are still my preferred choice because of the growth story that you just can't get anywhere else, and I do think they will be able to control inflation," he said.
The manager favours India in particular.
Mr Doel said many emerging markets managers were avoiding the country due to high valuations, but he said UK companies with exposure to renewable energy and firms that outsource to India were throwing up opportunities.
The manager has also been increasing his exposure to the US in the last 3-6 months as he believes it is still a better market than the UK and Europe.
The fund delivered a top-quartile return of 16.4 per cent in one year to April 28, compared with an average 13.1 per cent return from funds in the IMA UK Equity Income sector, according to Morningstar.