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Custis builds in real estate

Lazard Asset Management is building a position in real estate funds within its UK alpha fund.

Fund manager Alan Custis believes this is the right time to increase exposure. He says: “It is somewhat contrarian if you look at the outflows you are still seeing on property funds where there still seems to be a queue of people trying to get out but I think you can make money when you do something opposite to the mass market and the flow of investments.”

Custis says British Land represents very good medium term value. He is barbelling this and other cyclical plays with other more defensive stocks to balance the portfolio but says: “You need to have your foot in the cyclical camp because on days when the market goes up by 2, 3, 4 per cent you need to have those stocks that have the capability of going up by 10, 12 per cent.”

He believes there are signs of green shoots in the housing market and says: “Mortgage availability is getting better, I think there is a pent-up demand for people to move.”

On an annualised return over three years to March 31, the fund has delivered -12.8 per cent compared with -10.2 per cent on the FTSE All-share index.

Hargreaves Lansdown senior analyst Meera Patel says: “If he is picking these shares up at the margin, he could be making a right call because when they move they will move really fast.”

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