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Eastern European promise

I am always suspicious when a stockmarket sector has risen dramatically over three years or so but I believe that well managed European emerging markets funds will still outperform most other sectors over the next few years.

This is partly because many of these countries have now joined the EU, so investors in these areas can be more confident than previously.

These countries are benefiting as many Western companies choose to relocate some of their production eastwards, where it is usually cheaper to buy goods or services. There has also been a big jump in exports, which is expected to continue. One of the trusts I like best is the Baring emerging Europe investment trust, run by Stuart Richards, who has been with the emerging markets equity team since 1996. Performance has been outstanding. Over 10 years, a 1,000 investment would have grown to over 10,000 as at July 1 while, over five years, a return of 2,784 would have been achieved.

About a third of the fund is invested in Russia, 24 per cent in Hungary and 20 per cent in Poland, with smaller holdings in Turkey and the Czech Republic.

Turkey is a particular favourite of the manager as he believes its strong economy will continue to drive earnings and, despite opposition from some EU members, it will eventually join. He also believes that Russia continues to look relatively attractive in terms of valuations.

I also like the Jupiter emerging opportunities and Credit Suisse European frontiers unit trusts as well as the Eastern European investment trust.

It is certainly worth investing part of bigger portfolios in this area.

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