The Aviva Investors Multi-Manager Equities survey found that 37 per cent of respondents believed the average returns on the emerging market equity index would not surpass 5 per cent this year.
By contrast, almost half of respondents expected returns of at least 6 per cent on the UK, US and Japanese equity indices.
Roughly the same number of respondents, 44 per cent, also expected similar returns from eurozone equities as the outlook for the recession-hit region continued to improve.
Almost three quarters, 74 per cent, of those surveyed felt the eurozone’s difficulties would not upset markets this year. In 2013, only 29 per cent of multi-managers felt that way.
Peter Fitzgerald, head of multi-asset at Aviva Investors, said the bearish outlook for emerging markets was in spite of predictions from a third of respondents who thought this region would demonstrate the highest GDP this year.
A slightly smaller number of multi-managers, 31 per cent, pinned this expectation on the US, with Asia taking 25 per cent of the vote.
Mr Fitzgerald said: “Our portfolios are overweight equities and remain overweight developed markets, but we are seeing some value starting to appear in some emerging markets.”
The research also showed 41 per cent of multi-managers expected mid-caps to continue their strong run this year, with only 23 per cent expecting the best performance to come from small-caps.
Ian Aylward, head of multi-manager research at Aviva Investors, said most of the fund house’s own stable of multi-managers saw “superior growth prospects” for mid-caps, despite “elevated valuations”.
Ben Gutteridge, head of fund research at national advisory firm Brewin Dolphin, said: “Equities enjoyed a second consecutive week of strong inflows last week as the ‘polar vortex’ that had markets shivering at the start of the year, continued to thaw. But emerging markets appear to be enjoying no such reversal, as yet more data suggests tightening Chinese credit conditions will impede growth.”