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Market madness

Ever since the sub-prime crunch took hold in the Summer it seems predicting the market has practically become impossible to do – if that wasn’t the case before.

Earlier in the year a number of fund managers were telling journalists they expected the FTSE to break 7000 at some point in 2007, as almost every asset class was on the rise.

Any black and white reading of the market has been replaced with shades of grey, as some managers tell us to run and hide while others say there are more opportunities in the market for the better managers to make a killing.

If anyone ever needed to be assured of the market uncertainty then a seat at Jupiter’s market dinner this week would have acted as suitable evidence that the market was anything but black and white.

The dinner saw all the hierarchy from the fund house on top form as they all explained there views on the market in detail.

First up was chief executive Edward Bonham Carter, who spoke of why he is feels a recession – if there is one – will not come until 2009 or 2010, and that he does not believe it will be as bad as the one from 2000 to 2003.

He also said he expected private equity to bounce back with more takeovers, this time based less on leverage and more on equity.

However, despite Bonham Carter’s bold prediction it was Jupiter income guru Tony Nutt’s comments that caught my attention, namely because it clashed with two other fund guru’s at the firm in the shape of multi-manager head John Chatfeild Roberts and UK growth manager Ian McVeigh.

Then again it is part of Jupiter’s culture for the firm to encourage its managers to think for themsleves and never seeks to offer a concensus house view. This can often result in some widely differing views but I was struck by the particular differences on this occasion.

Nutt clashed with McVeigh over mining, with the former kicking all those stocks out of his portfolio, believing a number of results issued by firms have been less than great.

McVeigh on the contrary believes there is still some value in the sector, holding a number in his portfolio and stating “I respect Tony Nutt’s view but on this occasion he just happens to be totally wrong.”

Nutt was also in disagreement with Chatfeild Roberts on property, with Nutt saying he is not to fearful on a sector that he sees as “prime and everything else”. Nutt also said he expected the generalist property firm to become more specialist – such as Land Securities which has split its business in three silos – with a number of specialists then being bought out.

Meanwhile, Chatfeild Roberts was quick to highlight the number of fund firms who had admitted that returns were starting to slow. And he believes their expectations are still being fairly optimistic as a number of funds had struggled to break even in 2007.

These are managers who have consistently made money year in and year out for their investors. There disagreements were indicative of what looks to be a long term market trend.

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