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Julian Gibbs

Very few funds in the UK all companies sector have been in the top quartile over each year from 2000 to 2003. The few are Fidelity special situations, GAM UK diversified, Marlborough UK equity growth, Lazard UK equity alpha and Rathbone special situations.

I have just made an in-depth study of Lazard UK equity alpha. Since launch in December 1999, this fund has produced strong and sustained relative performance to give superior returns in rising markets while protecting investors from some the negative effects of volatile and falling markets.

It is managed by Simon Roberts and Tony Willis, who both receive AAA ratings from Citywire and are also highly rated by Standard & Poor&#39s.

I particularly like Lazard&#39s team approach, where the lead managers work closely with the whole of the UK equity team.

Two main reasons for their success are that they sell shares when they reach particular targets and reinvest in undervalued shares, concentrating on stock selection rather than sector selection and trying to guess market timing.

The managers have been able to outperform the FTSE All-Share index over all annual periods since launch and, in my opinion, this fund is likely to prove a far better investment in future than a tracker fund. The managers have been able to outperform both in rising and falling markets. They invest mainly in FTSE 100 companies but they do not neglect FTSE 250 and FTSE small-cap companies where applicable.

It is certainly a fund that should be considered by all long-term equity investors who want consistently above-average performance combined with below-average volatility.

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