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Product matters: Playing the yield

After their high-profile departure from Neptune last year, Barry Norris and Oliver Russ’s first offerings from their new Britannic Argonaut boutique were always going to attract attention.

Funds often attract fuss simply because of what has gone before. However, the two offerings from Norris and Russ deserve a look purely for their fundamentals.

We like them both but are especially taken by Russ’s European income fund.

The fund will focus on Europe, excluding the UK, looking for high-dividend-paying stocks. It is a fund in the same vein as last year’s other major income launches, focusing on tapping yield outside the UK.

The fund is targeting a return comfortably in excess of the benchmark – which was incidentally just over 3 per cent last year – using a combination of bottom-up stock selection and the nattily named quant model Jason for quant ideas generation.

One interesting aspect of the fund is the way in which it is mining for special dividends. These are dividends paid by the burgeoning stockmarkets, such as the Greek stock exchange, as they expand.

The fund will be skewed towards large caps, with growth coming from lower down the market cap spectrum. It is a fairly concentrated portfolio of between 30 and 50 stocks, which means the volatility could be higher but we think the fundamentals add up.

There is an increasing need for yield among the baby-boomer generation and lack of good European-focused income funds. We think Russ and the team can exploit pricing anomalies versus the UK market and should be able to buy for the future and not just take the market opportunities.

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