Bendahan doubles deep value plays in Euro equity fund

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Eric Bendahan has made a significant shift into deep value stocks as he readies his €1.7 billion OYSTER European Opportunities for a recovery.

The European equity specialist told Citywire Global value stocks had gone from representing 25% of the portfolio at the start of the year to 52-53% in his latest positioning.

Bendahan said the move reflected wider confidence over the European economy which had opened up opportunities in previously ‘uninvestable’ parts of the market.

‘There clearly has been more of a tilt towards value and that has been our big shift this year. We have tended to have more of an emphasis on growth,’ he said.

‘It is quite a considerable evolution and we have really been going to the deeper value parts of the market. So we have been looking at peripheral Europe and financials, as well.’

Pointing to positions in Spanish and Italian financial markets, Bendahan said restructuring efforts and rights issues had led him to open up and add to positions in Southern Europe.

‘In Italy we have got two insurance companies. We have got Fondiara-Sai and Generali as well,’ he said.

‘The reason for these two names is the considerable consolidation in the insurance industry, for example, Fondiara-Sai being made up of combination of the second, third and fourth biggest insurers there.’

‘We also like Spanish banks and they really were the most difficult place to invest historically. What happened last year was there was a wave of consolidation and high number of rates issues taking effect.’

On a stock basis, Bendahan holds Bankia (0.5%) in Spain, which he said represents a good opportunity following its efforts to counteract difficulties which saw it technically bankrupted in 2012.

This does not mark Bendahan’s first foray into Europe’s periphery, as select deep value bets in Ireland and Greece served him well over the course of 2012.

Growth plays

Meanwhile, in the growth bucket of his portfolio, Bendahan highlighted the potential of Russian retail chain Magnit, which is currently his largest single position at 3.5%.

‘This is not a top down macro call on Russia but it is more a feeling that it is like investing in Walmart in the 1980s. Unlike its competitors it is not just in the main cities, like Moscow and St Petersburg, but you can find it in Siberia and on the European border, so that is positive.’

‘It has a very strong growth position and we can see it increasing its market position from 6% to 13%, so there are definitely strong years ahead.’

The OYSTER European Opportunities EUR fund has returned 81.54% over the five years to the end of October 2013. This compares to a rise of 74.9% by its Citywire benchmark, the STOXX Europe 600 TR EUR, over the same period.