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dimanche 12 septembre 2010

Skagen star: Why emerging markets will continue to outperform

(Kristoffer Stensrud - gérant de fonds chez Skagen)

The past few years have shown that the decorrelation between developed and emerging market equities was not as strong as some had predicted, but star fund manager Kristoffer Stensrud thinks it is wrong to read too much into this short-term disturbance of a long-term trend.

'The debate a couple of years ago about the decoupling of the economies in the emerging markets and the industrialised countries is quickly becoming irrelevant. Since March 2007 the correlation between asset classes, and for that matter equity classes, has increased dramatically,' the top-performing Skagen Kon-Tiki manager said in his latest report.

'The strong correlation in the short term can blind one to the significant deviation in the longer term,' he added.

He thinks over the long term it is the 'real fundamentals' and stockpicking which matter. He thinks the picture for emerging markets looks far brighter than developed markets, pointing out some dramatic statistics regarding the growth in personal wealth.

'At the beginning of 2007, 60 million households in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) had a purchasing power adjusted disposable income of over $10,000. This year, twice as many households – 120 million – will have a disposable income of over $10,000; thereby beating the US. Next year, it is anticipated that 140 million households will have reached this income level which will mean the BRIC countries overtaking the entire euro area.'

Stensrud, who is consistently one of the top performing emerging market managers in Europe, knows some people will think such statistics are irrelevant and that emerging market equities remain at the whim of a fickle media and flighty investors. But he says such data really do matter.

'From March 2007 to the present day, annual car sales in the BRIC countries increased by almost 70%, from 12 to 20 million cars. In the same period, car sales in the US, the home of motoring, have fallen from 17 to 11 million cars. Unemployment in the US has risen from five to ten percent. The purchasing power of Chinese blue-collar workers has increased by almost 50 percent, with the Indians and Brazilians not far behind.'

He thinks the fact that the correction in emerging markets was not as sharp as in the West is illustrative of a new world order taking shape.

'The emerging markets are not necessarily as exposed to the global cyclical developments, and are therefore not as risky as some would have us believe. We are probably in a paradigm shift where old theories are being overturned. A new world order appears to be in the making. Experience so far has shown that it pays off to be an active value-based investor rather than a passive index manager. And that extreme focus on the market and macro conditions does not pay off over time.'

In the past eight years, Stensrud's Kon-Tiki fund has returned 548% in euro terms, compared to a 214% rise in the MSCI Emerging markets index.

He is AA-rated by Citywire and ranked 3/74 in his sector over five years.

(Philip Haddon - Citywire - 16/08/10)

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