Naughty and nice investments in 2017

It's that time of the year again. The fairy lights have been arduously untangled, Michael Buble's dulcet tones are resonating throughout every single shopping centre in the UK and clothes which fitted perfectly just a couple of months ago are suddenly feeling snug.

Another Christmas tradition, of course, is the Santa rally, which typically occurs during the last couple of weeks of December.

Investors would be forgiven, however, for believing that the decorations were never put away at the end of last year and that the Santa rally has continued over the last 12 months as indices have continued their steady ascent.

As always though, the year has seen winners and losers. So far in 2017, Chinese equity funds have dominated the 'nice' list, with three out of the 10 best-performing funds in the Investment Association residing in the IA China/Greater China sector. These include NB China Equity, Baillie Gifford Greater China and Invesco PRC Equity.

In terms of the best performer overall, Old Mutual UK Smaller Companies Focus has taken the top spot with a total return of 46.5%*. The fund, which his headed up by Nick Williamson, is one of three UK small-cap focused funds to make it onto the top 10 list, with Polar Capital UK Absolute Equity and Elite Webb Capital Smaller Companies Income & Growth also faring well in 2017.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the worst performer of the year so far has been Jayesh Manek's Manek Growth, which is due to close on the 28th December and has made double-digit losses over one, three, five and 10 years as well as since its launch in 1997. Year-to-date it has lost 24.11%*. This is closely followed by VT Craigshannoch Multi Strategy which is down 23.87%*.

In terms of sector, it may come as little surprise to investors that oil and energy funds have generally been the worst performers in 2017 so far, with five out of the 10 of the most lacklustre funds all specialising in the market area. Gold funds have also had a torrid time year-to-date, with three out of 10 of the worst-performers.

Looking forward to 2018, fundamentals seem positive but valuations appear stretched and there are still a number of uncertainties on the horizon. Drip feeding into the market and remaining diversified remains a good option for investors.  

'Nice' List*

 Position Fund Name Total Return (%)
1 Old Mutual UK Smaller Companies Focus 46.50
2 Baillie Gifford Greater China 45.16 
3 NB China Equity 45.15 
4 Polar Capital UK Absolute Equity 45.02 
5 Barclays GlobalAccess Pacific Rim (ex-Japan)  41.60 
6 Elite Webb Capital Smaller Companies Income & Growth                  38.78 
7 First State Japan Focus  37.31 
8 Baillie Gifford Pacific  37.21 
9 JPM Asia Growth 36.16 
10 Invesco PRC Equity 36.04 

'Naughty' List*

Position Fund Name Total Return (%)
1 Manek Growth -24.11
2 VT Craigshannoch Multi Strategy -23.87
3 HC Charteris Gold & Precious Metals -20.45
4 Schroder ISF Global Energy -20.03
5 Smith & Williamson Global Gold & Resources -17.01
6 Investec Global Energy -16.01
7 GS North American Energy & Energy Infrastructure Equity Portfolio -15.16
8 MFM Junior Gold -13.93
9 MFM Junior Oils Trust -13.00
10 Guinness Global Energy -12.87

*According to data from FE Analytics, total returns in sterling as at 5 December 2017

Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. You may not get back the amount originally invested, and tax rules can change over time. Darius's views are his own and do not constitute financial advice.

Published on 11/12/2017