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Year of the Ox is looking bullish

WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR?

Top-performing Asian stock funds since the start of the Chinese Year of the Ox.

China's Shanghai stock market has been on a tear this year, surging 29 per cent to Wednesday. That includes an 18-per-cent gain since ringing in the new year on Jan. 26.

TODAY'S SCREEN

We asked Globefund analyst Victor Tan to rank the Greater China, Asia Pacific and Asia Pacific ex-Japan funds by top returns from Jan. 26 to Wednesday. U.S. dollar, segregated and duplicate versions of the funds were excluded.

WHAT DID WE FIND?

The Year of the Ox is looking more like the Year of the Bull.

CIBC's Renaissance China Plus run by Hong Kong-based Hamon Investment Group hit the top of the chart with a robust 29.1-per cent gain.

While most managers get China exposure through the liquid, larger-cap Chinese H-shares traded in Hong Kong, Hamon also invests in the smaller-company B shares traded on the mainland. When the Chinese market soars, its funds benefit. When the market dives like last year, its funds can get hit hard.

Concerned about risk after last year's red ink, the promoter of Excel China ditched Hamon in January in favour of a more conservative strategy with Baring Asset Management Inc. Excel China's 22.4-per-cent gain is not too shabby, but it came from owning non-mainland stocks, according to co-manager William Fong.

His fund got a lift from infrastructure plays like China Communications Construction Group Ltd., Anhui Conch Cement Co. Ltd., Angang Steel Company Ltd. that are benefiting from China's $600-billion (U.S.) stimulus package to boost economic growth. Financial and property stocks also contributed to gains.

Mavrix Asia Pacific has risen 18.9 per cent with a big bet on China. It has a 70-per-cent weighting in China through H shares and Chinese companies listed in Canada and a 20-per-cent position in cash.

Recent performance has been helped by infrastructure stocks like Lonking Holdings Ltd. and Harbin Power Equipment Co. Ltd. He has also taken profits in Canadian-listed China plays like electrical bicycle maker Zongshen PEM Power Systems Inc. and fertilizer company Migao Corp.

The recent rally stems from the Chinese economy "showing some signs of bottoming," said manager Eric Yan. He expects China can achieve its target of 8 per cent GDP growth this year. While conceding there could be a correction in the Chinese market, he doesn't expect it to be protracted. "Right now it [market] is an overbought and profit-taking is very well in order," he said.

swon@globeandmail.com

***

Asian Funds January 26 to April 8, 2009
(Jan 26 to(April 8)
(As of Mar '09)Latest Apr 8)YTD% returns (as of Mar. 31/09)
Fund nameCategory Assets ($-mil)MER% rtn% rtn1-yr3-yr5-yr10-yr
Renaissance China PlusGreater China Equity97.03.2129.114.2-17.94.13.314.7
Excel ChinaGreater China Equity72.73.3222.44.7-29.32.64.4
HSBC Chinese Equity-IGreater China Equity175.72.5622.25.3-22.54.9
AGF China Focus ClassGreater China Equity243.22.9622.14.7-24.14.85.011.6
Fidelity China AGreater China Equity33.32.6821.911.5-14.4
AGF Asian Growth ClassAsia Pacific ex-Japan Eq40.12.9920.97.0-31.1-3.8-1.1-0.1
Investors Greater China CGreater China Equity129.02.8520.35.7-20.6
BMO Greater China ClassGreater China Equity86.72.7519.75.6-32.2-2.7
Mavrix Asia PacificAsia Pacific Equity0.46.0318.99.1-32.0
HSBC AsiaPacific-IAsia Pacific ex-Japan Eq37.12.3717.75.3-30.7-5.40.91.7
Investors Pacific International-CAsia Pacific ex-Japan Eq207.02.8516.64.7-33.1-6.01.40.3
Manulife China Opportunities ClassGreater China Equity60.72.8815.93.4-26.62.0
Fidelity Far East-AAsia Pacific ex-Japan Eq48.42.6415.04.0-24.1-0.45.73.6
Renaissance AsianAsia Pacific Equity6.13.2314.50.3-37.2-13.8-5.4-1.9
Dynamic Far East ValueAsia Pacific Equity64.23.4213.96.4-36.7-13.8-2.7-0.5
Perpetual Indo-PacificAsia Pacific Equity39.62.8413.22.8-21.8-7.5-1.8-0.6
Pro FTSE RAFI Hong Kong China Idx-AGreater China Equity11.65.3-27.7
Mackenzie Focus Far East Class AAsia Pacific ex-Japan Eq66.02.4911.22.5-31.1-5.2-1.6
TD Asian GrowthAsia Pacific ex-Japan Eq111.22.738.8-2.6-32.2-3.82.13.8
Investors Pan Asian Growth-CAsia Pacific Equity25.62.857.7-3.5-30.5-14.6-6.1
Quebec Professionals Asian EquityAsia Pacific Equity1.387.5-4.5-28.2-14.3-6.1-2.9
FÉRIQUE AsianAsia Pacific Equity43.41.257.1-2.6-27.1-12.1-2.9
CIBC Asia Pacific IndexAsia Pacific Equity14.41.106.4-6.2-25.5-10.5-3.0
Fidelity AsiaStar AAsia Pacific ex-Japan Eq77.72.695.51.3-15.8
Scotia Pacific RimAsia Pacific Equity19.32.735.5-6.3-33.4-13.1-4.5-0.6
BMO Guardian Asian Grth & Inc-MAsia Pacific Equity205.02.755.41.0-23.1-3.42.3
TD Pacific Rim-IAsia Pacific Equity31.12.474.7-6.9-29.8-11.6-4.3-0.9
CIBC Asia PacificAsia Pacific Equity95.22.883.7-6.6-24.9-11.5-4.0-0.7
RBC Asian EquityAsia Pacific Equity501.12.152.7-8.1-32.2-15.4-5.3
Altamira Asia PacificAsia Pacific Equity36.32.681.9-7.9-21.0-10.3-3.63.1
National Bank Asia PacificAsia Pacific Equity5.02.671.4-8.5-21.8-10.1-3.5
CI PacificAsia Pacific Equity75.02.33-1.9-11.1-25.3-9.7-2.0-1.0
HANG SENG Stock Index15.10.6-40.6-4.91.42.2
NIKKEI 225 Price Index11.9-3.0-35.3-22.0-7.1-6.5
Shanghai Composite Index17.928.9-31.722.36.47.4
SOURCE: GLOBEFUND, BLOOMBERG, COMPANY

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