Asia Pacific equities had a roller coaster year in 2014, which saw them rise strongly over the first half of the year before surrendering those gains towards the close of 2014.
This lacklustre performance was reflected in the benchmark, the FTSE World Asia Pacific ex-Japan index, which ended 2014 down 1.14%.
Citywire Asia analysed the performance of 68 active managers running Asia ex-Japan funds registered for sale in Hong Kong and found the average manager return had a positive return of 4.2% over this timeframe.
Here are the top five managers with Hong Kong registered-funds who outperformed their peers in the Asia ex-Japan equities space:
(Manager returns below indicate the average of all funds run in the Asia ex-Japan equities sector only.)
5. Rahul Chadha, Mirae Asset Global Investments
Upbeat about the Indian market, the co-CIO of Mirae Assets shifted his portfolio towards Indian equities in 2014. The move paid off for Citywire A-rated Rahul Chadha, as the Asia Pacific Equity fund and the Asset Asia Sector Leader Equity fund gained 10.3% and 9.8%, respectively, in 2014.
*Performance figure is an average of Chadha's two funds.
4.Sharat Shroff, Matthews Asia
Fund: Matthews Asia Fds-Pacific Tiger I Acc USD
One year total return: 11.2%
In fourth place is Sharat Shroff, who joined Matthews Asia in 2005. As of end December 2014, the Citywire A-rated manager had allocated 29.2% of the fund to China and Hong Kong equities, while another 20.6% went into Indian equities.
Shroff had revealed in a previous interview with Citywire that he was upbeat about China, India and South Korea, and this was evident in his stock picks. His top holdings is one of Korea’s largest beauty products company, AmorePacific (3.9%), while China-based Ping An Insurance Group makes up 3.5%.
3. Martin Lau, First State Investments
Fund: First State Asian Equity Plus I (Distributing) USD
One year total return: 13.7%
Sitting in third place is +-rated manager Martin Lau, who has over 12 years of manager experience. Lau delivered total returns of 13.7%. As of end 2014, his top picks out of the 64 holdings in his portfolio included Hong Kong headquartered Cheung Kong Holdings (3.9%) and Taiwan Semiconductor (3.6%).
2. Richard Jones, First State Investments
Fund: First State Asia Innovation I Acc USD
One year total return: 14.7%
Citywire A-rated Richard Jones pips colleague Lau into second place. Jones, who has been managing the fund since July 2011, allocated 25.1% of the fund to Indian equities, while also holding a substantial allocation to Hong Kong equities (16.3%). Jones’ top holdings in the fund included biotech company CSL (4.8%) and Hong Kong & China Gas (4.1%).
1. Joohee An, Mirae Asset Global Investments
Fund: Mirae Asset Asia Great Consumer Equity A USD
One year total return: 18.2%
With returns of more than four times that of the average manager in the sector, Joohee An is the top performing Asia ex-Japan equity manager with funds registered in Hong Kong.
As of Dec 2014, An’s portfolio was heavily weighted towards Chinese equities (35.9%) and Indian equities (15.6%), respectively. While favouring Chinese and Indian equities, An revealed in a November 2014 interview that she was shying away from Macau-related gaming stocks.