InvestmentsDec 17 2015

Beecroft ramps up high-conviction Asian holdings

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Beecroft ramps up high-conviction Asian holdings
Credit: Reuters

T Rowe Price manager Nick Beecroft has put additional backing behind his conviction stocks in the firm’s Asian ex Japan Equity fund, in spite of concerns over sentiment.

The portfolio specialist said changes to the $614m (£408m) fund saw it “lean into the weakness” of the region after the turmoil in equity markets earlier this summer.

Mr Beecroft said the team used the volatility stemming from China’s equity markets as an opportunity to add to some holdings as valuations dropped.

At a time when the Shanghai Composite index fell by 8.5 per cent in one day, Mr Beecroft witnessed valuations on some stocks become “25 per cent cheaper”.

He said: “There was so much in the way of forced redemptions that we were able to pick up some of the better companies in the region of 25 per cent cheaper than at the start of the summer.

“We have been investing in emerging markets for a long time and sometimes it helps to be a bit contrarian and lean into the weakness.”

The team added to positions including pan-Asian life insurance group AIA and Chinese internet services firm Tencent.

Mr Beecroft said: “We have ended up with a slightly more high-conviction portfolio and a higher weighting to those names.”

The equity team also increased weightings in the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and India’s HDFC Bank. The fund had 81 holdings at the end of September.

Mr Beecroft’s team added 0.2 percentage points to AIA, taking the total holding to 5.5 per cent. Tencent rose 0.3 percentage points to 4.4 per cent, TSMC by 1 percentage point to 4.9 per cent and HDFC up to 3.8 per cent from 2.6 per cent.

The manager said: “TSMC is a secular growth story. The internet of things means everything around us has become increasingly connected.

“There’s a big structural driver for more powerful and complex devices, with a greater volume of chips in all our devices.

HDFC has operated well in the economic slowdown in India in recent years and it is seeing the benefit of its growth in market share.”

But some holdings were dropped, including China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and carmaker Hyundai.

Mr Beecroft thought sustained lower energy prices were “broadly a tailwind” for Asia because of its use of imports, though CNOOC had suffered as a result.

A range of new products released by Hyundai has also proved less lucrative than the equity team expected.