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Julian Gibbs

Carl Stick, manager of the Rathbone special situations fund, has a remarkable record. His is the only trust which has been in the top five over one, two, three and five years in a sector which now consists of 280 trusts.

Over the past three years, for example, he has achieved a return of 38.7 per cent against a loss of 15.5 per cent for the average trust. Over five years, this trust has gained 155.9 per cent compared with an average loss of 12.1 per cent. Most tracker funds have performed even worse.

Stick has achieved this partly by identifying small-cap fledgling and Aim companies which have been under-researched by most managers and partly by taking advantage of special situations such as Shell, which has been marked down excessively as a result of recent bad publicity it has received.

While the fund is basically a UK fund, Stick does from time to time take advantage of special opportunities overseas. These holdings account for around 9 per cent of the fund at present. His aim has been to identify long-term themes that transcend geopolitics. Performance has been achieved with only slightly above-average volatility.

Furthermore, Stick has not relied on big holdings in one or two lucky bets. His biggest holding, Burren Energy, is only 1.5 per cent of the fund.

The fund has quite rightly won many awards, including being judged the best UK general equity fund for the third year running by Money Observer.

This fund is still only £83m in size so Stick should be able to continue to buy undervalued smaller companies. He has also performed well with the Rathbone income fund, which is the top performer in its sector over five years and has a good record of rising dividends as well as capital gains.

It is an ideal holding for trustees where an income is required.

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