Best In Class  

Best in Class: BlackRock European Dynamic

Best in Class: BlackRock European Dynamic

Six years ago, on the 26 July 2012, and at the height of the European sovereign debt crisis, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said he would do “whatever it takes” to preserve the euro and keep the eurozone intact. 

It's been a long six years, but investors who believed Mr Draghi would keep his word have been rewarded.

European equities (as measured by the FTSE World Europe ex UK index) are up 118.3 per cent and European government bonds are up 38.97 per cent, according to FE Analytics total returns data from 26 July 2012 to 17 July 2018. 

Having successfully done "whatever it takes", Mr Draghi is now slowly but surely starting to 'undo' it, by tapering his bond buying programme.

When he hinted at such a move last year, markets had a wobble: the euro rose, European government bond yields rose and equities took a tumble.

So he has been treading very carefully – particularly as Italian political uncertainty also rattled investors earlier this year.

The bank is currently buying more than €30bn of assets each month. This will halve to €15bn in September and end completely in December. 

From an economic viewpoint the outlook for the economy as a whole is still healthy: not quite as good as this time last year, but certainly still attractive – as are European equities relative to most other markets.

A fund I particularly like in this sector is BlackRock European Dynamic.

Over the six years, it has significantly outperformed the index and its peer group, returning 160.39 per cent, FE Analytics shows.

The European equity team at BlackRock has had a few changes recently, but remains extremely strong and this particular fund has been run by Alister Hibbert for the past decade. 

Mr Hibbert is unconstrained with regard to company size and sector - around 75 per cent is currently invested in large caps and most of the remainder in mid caps.

He invests in businesses with medium to long-term earnings power that is greater than the market and also those in restructuring and turnaround situations.

He uses a range of screening tools to help filter the investment universe and identify ideas for further in-depth research. The screens are run weekly and focus on valuation metrics and earnings momentum.

A weekly data pack is also produced that contains a range of information from stock, sector and country performance, through to foreign exchange, credit default swap spreads and fund flows.

Research is central to the investment process and a key source of alpha: the team has exceptional access to senior management within the companies they invest, conducting hundreds of meetings every year.

To facilitate this, there is a dedicated research co-ordinator responsible for the day-to-day management of the research schedule, and a research pipeline that prioritises and ensures effective use of team resources.