WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
How Asian stock funds fared in the Chinese Year of the Ox.
It's time to see how the past year turned out as we embark tomorrow on the New Year of the Tiger. If it is any consolation, the tiger is symbolic of energy and power. It may be a positive sign for the Chinese market this year.
We asked Globe Investor fund analyst Victor Tan to screen the Greater China, Asia Pacific and Asia Pacific ex-Japan equity funds, and rank them by performance for the year ended Jan. 31. The time period is close enough, given that the Year of the Ox began on Jan. 26. We excluded U.S.-dollar and duplicate versions of the funds, and those without a one-year record.
WHAT DID WE FIND?
The Year of the Ox turned out to be a very bullish.
Asian stock funds were rebounding after a dismal 2008. But investors didn't have to be in Greater China equity funds to get the big returns. Both Renaissance China Plus, which focuses on China, and Dynamic Far East Value, a regional fund, rose to the top of the heap with a 72-per-cent gain.
Unlike most Asian funds that will invest in China through firms listed in Hong Kong, Renaissance China Plus can invest in securities listed on the Chinese stock exchanges. That may have helped performance.
Chuk Wong, manager of Dynamic Far East Value, said China was the largest country weighting through Hong Kong-listed stocks that represented about 25 per cent of his fund.
Indonesia was about 10 per cent; India, 8 per cent, and Japan, 6 per cent. "Everything I owned last year was on fire," said the contrarian value manager with Goodman & Co. Investment Counsel Ltd.
Winners over the past year included Chinese stocks like sportswear maker Anta Sports; traditional Chinese medicine manufacturer China Shineway Pharmaceutical and South Korean auto parts supplier Hyundai Mobis.
Over a year ago, the Chinese market became very attractive because stocks were "very, very cheap," especially against a backdrop of China's huge stimulus program to boost economic growth, Mr. Wong said.
But "I think the easy money has been made," and picking the right stocks will be key over the next 12 months as Chinese policy makers embark on a tightening economic policy, he said. "Typically, when you are in a tightening cycle, interest rates will likely go up and the overall stock market might be in a trading range or might have a correction."
Outside of China, Mr. Wong is upbeat on Indonesia, the world's largest Islamic democracy with 230 million people. While the country was "a basket case 10 years ago," it has been making major headway in cutting government and corporate debt, he said.
|How Asian stock funds fared in the Year of the Ox|
|(As of Dec. 31)||Latest||(Jan. 31)||Calendar year % returns|
|Fund name||Category Assets ($-mil)||MER||1-yr % rtn||2009||2008||2007||2006||2005|
|Renaissance China Plus||Greater China Equity||197.91||3.19||72.1||71.3||-37.0||28.6||51.8||-3.2|
|Dynamic Far East Value||Asia Pacific Equity||125.93||2.61||71.9||65.0||-44.0||5.7||21.5||19.9|
|Mavrix Asia Pacific||Asia Pacific Equity||1.80||3.47||64.5||68.2||-45.2|
|BMO Greater China Class||Greater China Equity||128.30||2.73||51.5||45.8||-47.5||38.2||47.4||-0.3|
|Renaissance Asian||Asia Pacific Equity||8.47||3.21||48.2||42.1||-43.3||15.0||7.8||21.0|
|AGF Asian Growth Class||Asia Pacific ex-Japan Equity||56.29||3.04||46.5||43.0||-39.5||18.1||31.7||6.2|
|Investors Pacific International-C||Asia Pacific ex-Japan Equity||275.10||2.87||45.6||38.1||-42.8||18.9||32.5||11.8|
|Fidelity China A||Greater China Equity||55.86||2.68||45.1||44.4||-37.6||39.3|
|Excel China||Greater China Equity||110.25||3.32||44.9||43.4||-45.9||29.7||83.2||-4.8|
|HSBC AsiaPacific-I||Asia Pacific ex-Japan Equity||51.12||2.44||44.7||42.3||-39.7||13.5||29.9||17.1|
|Fidelity Far East-A||Asia Pacific ex-Japan Equity||67.58||2.56||44.3||40.7||-34.0||15.7||39.4||22.0|
|Mackenzie Focus Far East Class A||Asia Pacific ex-Japan Equity||104.58||2.51||41.9||38.6||-35.5||17.5||26.4||6.9|
|HSBC Chinese Equity-I||Greater China Equity||259.88||2.59||38.2||36.9||-43.4||35.0||80.3||7.2|
|Perpetual Indo-Pacific||Asia Pacific Equity||49.90||2.84||36.3||29.3||-26.1||-2.9||17.9||17.9|
|Manulife China Opportunities Class||Greater China Equity||81.85||2.97||33.2||32.7||-39.3||24.2||72.9||8.8|
|BMO GDN Asian Grth & Inc-M||Asia Pacific Equity||293.48||2.75||31.3||27.0||-24.5||6.0||20.3||11.0|
|Investors Pan Asian Growth-C||Asia Pacific Equity||31.86||2.86||29.8||17.5||-32.5||-4.7||12.2||15.2|
|Pro FTSE RAFI Hng Kng China Idx-A||Greater China Equity||29.2||31.9||-37.6|
|AGF China Focus Class||Greater China Equity||303.23||2.99||28.9||27.7||-41.7||30.5||67.6||8.6|
|Investors Greater China C||Greater China Equity||171.21||2.86||27.9||23.4||-39.0||29.5|
|Scotia Pacific Rim||Asia Pacific Equity||25.04||2.83||26.8||17.4||-35.6||5.0||11.1||26.4|
|CIBC Asia Pacific||Asia Pacific Equity||116.39||2.88||26.7||18.8||-26.3||3.2||4.3||20.2|
|TD Asian Growth||Asia Pacific ex-Japan Equity||136.05||2.73||25.5||21.1||-39.0||20.4||39.8||16.9|
|FÉRIQUE Asian||Asia Pacific Equity||56.14||1.25||23.6||20.1||-30.7||-2.3||14.7||18.3|
|Quebec Professionals Asian Equity||Asia Pacific Equity||1.38||23.2||13.9||-27.3||-10.9||11.8||11.8|
|CIBC Asia Pacific Index||Asia Pacific Equity||17.01||1.18||20.7||10.3||-22.9||-4.9||14.3||18.1|
|RBC Asian Equity||Asia Pacific Equity||698.67||2.15||18.9||12.0||-32.9||-2.6||9.5||25.3|
|TD Pacific Rim-I||Asia Pacific Equity||34.21||2.47||17.1||7.7||-32.3||3.3||14.0||15.5|
|Altamira Asia Pacific||Asia Pacific Equity||44.43||2.40||15.6||9.8||-20.6||-7.1||13.7||14.1|
|Fidelity AsiaStar A||Asia Pacific ex-Japan Equity||76.96||2.69||14.0||15.3||-18.5||6.3|
|CI Pacific||Asia Pacific Equity||75.73||2.33||9.0||0.4||-24.2||4.2||16.9||20.7|
|Hang Seng Total Return Index||30.0||29.0||-34.9||17.8||33.3||2.2|
|MSCI Far East ($ Cdn)||4.0||-4.2||-15.3||-14.9||8.5||21.1|
|Source: Globe Investor|
© 2007 The Globe and Mail. All rights reserved.
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