Aberdeen buys US and Japan equities

Aberdeen’s multi-manager team has broadened its exposure to Japanese and US equities with the addition of Pictet and Hermes products.

The team, led by Graham Duce and Aidan Kearney, has invested in the £808m Hermes US SMID Equity strategy and the ¥42.8bn (£279.5m) Pictet Japanese Equity Opportunities fund in some of its multi-manager portfolios.

Scott Spencer, senior portfolio manager, said the team had bought into the Pictet fund – run by Adrian Hickey, Sam Perry and Serena Robinson –after taking profits from a 6 per cent weighting to Stephen Harker’s GLG Japan Core Alpha fund in the Aberdeen Multi-Manager Balanced Managed portfolio.

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The Aberdeen fund now has 4 per cent in GLG Japan Core Alpha and 2 per cent in Pictet Japan Opportunities.

“Pictet Japan Opportunities is a broader fund, more of a core holding, and is able to short stocks,” Mr Spencer said. “It is a stock selection play rather than value.

“We need to be a bit more nimble from now on in Japan, and Pictet brings that ability to the portfolio.”

The £1.1bn GLG fund endured a period of underperformance in 2012 but has gained 38.9 per cent since the beginning of 2013, compared with 32.1 per cent from its Topix index benchmark.

Meanwhile the Pictet Japan Equity Opportunities fund gained 33.8 per cent in 2013 to July 18.

The broadening of the managers’ Japan exposure comes as prime minister Shinzo Abe tightened his grip on power after winning elections in the country’s upper house earlier this month.

Several Japanese commentators, including Invesco Perpetual’s head of Japanese equities Paul Chesson, have said the win by Mr Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, together with coalition partner New Komeito, means “years of instability in Japanese politics” is behind the country and a “platform for structural change” has now been provided.

Elsewhere, the Hermes US SMID Equity fund, managed by Robert Anstey and Mark Sherlock, has been added to Aberdeen’s Multi-Manager Constellation, Equity Managed and Balanced Managed funds to increase US equity exposure.

Senior portfolio manager Rob Bowie said: “Our main US position in the Findlay Park American fund has done very well, compounding returns in quality businesses. Over time it has moved from a small and mid-cap bias into larger companies.

“The Hermes fund is quite specific – it invests in the Russell 2500 index, pure small and mid-cap stocks.”

The Hermes US SMID Equity fund has gained 34.1 per cent per cent since it came to the wider UK market in November 2012, although the strategy has been running since 1987.

Earlier this year, Aberdeen added BlackRock’s US Growth fund to its US equity holdings to sit alongside holdings in

the Threadneedle American Ex-tended Alpha fund, the Cullen North American High Dividend Value Equity fund and the Findlay Park American fund.