Star contrarian manager doubles Asian exposure

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Euro Stars A-rated manager Ivan Nyssen (pictured) of CapitalAtWork has more than doubled his investments in Asia and China as he looks to take advantage of investors' growing concerns over the region's slowing economic growth.

The self-described contrarian manager, who runs the €230 million CapitalAtWorkFoyer - Contrarian Eqs atWork fund, said he took his direct exposure in Asia and China from 5% in December to around 13% in January.

While Nyssen said this is still a minor position in terms of overall exposure he views it as an important theme in his strategy.

‘Now we have seen that China has been slowing down as well as Brazil, we have seen equity prices going down and monetary policies are becoming relaxed and some of these markets are much more attractive,’ he told Citywire Global.

‘People are always trying to buy equities in ‘interesting’ markets or countries or areas but it is always at a time when this is too expensive. When there is a slowdown people start to worry and stock prices come down. There is still this confusion over economic growth and investment opportunities.’

In order to access opportunities in China and Asia, Nyssen said he added positions in the Macau gaming sector and also financials name Standard Chartered – which he said was especially cheap given recent scandals regarding its alleged dealings with Iran.

The repositioning towards China and Asia comes as part of a wider clear-out undertaken by Nyssen, which has seen him replace several holdings in his 50-stock portfolio.

‘We got rid of a number of companies which had become less cheap or less undervalued and that is on a company-by-company basis,’ he said.

This has seen Nyssen sell out of names such as former top holding Comcast, as well as telecommunications giant NewsCorp and building supplies and convenience outlet Home Depot.

In their stead, he has added new positions or increased holdings in companies such as casino and hotel operator Las Vegas Sands, Danish brewer Carlsberg and business outsourcing firm ADP.

The CapitalAtWorkFoyer – Contrarian Eqs atWork fund returned 52.33% in the three years to the end of November 2012. This compares to its Citywire benchmark, the MSCI World TR EUR, which rose 43.39% over the same period.