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The three leading Japanese equity funds to watch

Citywire Switzerland takes a look at the top managers in the Japanese equity space.

Japanese equities is one of the sectors that has received the most inflows over the past quarter to date, attracting CHF 649 million of net flows, according to Swiss Fund Data.

As the region catches investors' attention, we take a closer look at three funds that are outperforming the competition in the space.

Across 81 Japanese fund managers tracked by Citywire, the average manager’s total return over three years to the end of August 2017 is 29.8%. The Topix TR benchmark has generated a return of 33.26% over the same period. Let’s see how the frontrunners’ performances compare.

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3. Nicholas Price, Fidelity International

Fund managed: Fidelity Funds - Japan Aggressive I-ACC-JPY

Total return over three years: 50.6%

Among the frontrunners in the Japanese equity space is Nicholas Price, who runs the ¥11,730 million Fidelity International fund.

Last month’s top contributing holdings were specialty website operation firm Yume No Machi Souzou, which has a weighting of 2.3% in the portfolio, and Recruit Holdings, which has a weighting of 4.1%, making it the fund’s biggest overweight position.

In terms of sectors, the information and communications sector contributed the most relative to returns, followed by the services sector, which is the fund’s biggest weighting, representing 14.2% of the portfolio.

The Citywire A-rated manager has worked at Fidelity International as a portfolio manager since 1999 and has managed the Japanese equity fund since its launch in 2006.

Over three years to the end of August 2012, the fund has returned 50.6%, which compares with the Topix TR’s return of 33.26% over the same period.

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2. Steve Glod, Banque de Luxembourg

Fund managed: BL Equities Japan B Cap

Total return over three years: 52.0%

Citywire AA-rated Steve Glod, who manages the BLI Japanese equity fund, ranks in second place over three years.

Glod joined Banque de Luxembourg in 2001 and has been in charge of Japanese equity investments for the bank’s fund range since 2011.

Featuring in the summer issue of Citywire Switzerland, the manager explained that monitoring the knock-on effects of Abenomics is a crucial step for investors in Japanese equities, particularly those looking to domestic-focused companies.

One current theme is the country's shifting demographics, which benefits niche players who can capitalise on the ageing population.

Japan’s largest security systems firm, Secom, is a case in point, offering a range of services to the elderly, he said.

Another firm well-placed to benefit from changing demographics is Japan’s largest convenience store chain, Seven & I Holdings.

Over three years, the BL Equities Japan B Cap fund has returned 52.0%, against 33.26% from the Topix TR.

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1.Chantana Ward & Richard Kaye, Comgest

Fund managed: Comgest Growth Japan JPY Acc

Total return over three years: 54.3%

Leading the way in the Japanese equity sector is Comgest duo Chantana Ward and Richard Kaye.

Citywire AAA-rated Ward has managed the fund since 2008 and was joined by Citywire AA-rated Kaye in 2010.

The fund’s total net assets stand at ¥45,836.29 million.

Its largest sector weighting is to industrials, which accounts for 31.5% of the portfolio, followed by consumer discretionary at 19.3%.

The fund’s top holding is material handling equipment manufacturer Daifuku and industrial automation manufacturer Keyence Corporation, which represent 5% of the portfolio each.

The Comgest Growth Japan fund has returned 54.3% over three years, against 33.26% from the Topix TR over the same period.

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Related Fund Managers

Steve Glod
Steve Glod
5/80 in Equity - Japan (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 65.16%
Nicholas Price
Nicholas Price
3/80 in Equity - Japan (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 68.35%
Chantana Ward
Chantana Ward
1/80 in Equity - Japan (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 68.82%
Richard Kaye
Richard Kaye
2/80 in Equity - Japan (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 68.82%
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