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China in your hands

The best performing purely Chinese fund over the past year is Neptune China run by the brilliant Robin Geffen. To August 1, 2006, the fund rose by 25.3 per cent against an average of only 6.3 per cent in the Asia Pacific excluding Japan sector.

Geffen is ably assisted by Shelley Kuhn, who was formerly an analyst with Henderson Global Investors. They have looked particularly at the consumer and energy sectors, where growth in China is likely to be exciting. Already, 40 per cent of China’s GDP comes from private consumption.

The managers look at global themes and analyse demographic trends before they invest in companies which are taking full advantage of those situations.

Seventy per cent of the fund is in Chinese stocks listed on the Hong Kong market, 22 per cent in Hong Kong companies and around 8 per cent in Taiwan.

One of the companies they invest in is China Mobile. There is only 30 per cent mobile penetration in China, unlike the UK and some European countries. Another stock they have invested in is China Mengniu Dairy because, as more disposable income becomes available, the middle classes can afford a variety of foods. In particular, the Chinese government has intro- duced a state school milk programme. This has boosted profits, which should continue to rise.

In the energy sector, the fund has invested in Petrochina and CNOOC, which are oil and gas companies involved in exploration and development. Both these companies are at present undervalued in relation to their international competitors.

This fund should be a winner over the next few years, whatever happens to the world economy as a whole.

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