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Rogan’s spicy fare

Gartmore’s global focus fund run by Neil Rogan is a hot performer, achieving a 20 per cent gain over the last three years from a concentrated portfolio of strategic and tactical holdings

Like the other Gartmore focus funds, the overall concept is very much the same, except this is global in nature. The fund holds between 30 to 40 stocks, is unconstrained in terms of geographical and sector allocation and is very much focused on performance, with the aim to add value both in up and down markets.

Rogan has been at the helm of this fund since its launch in January 2001 and over that time the fund is up by 23 per cent while the average fund in the peer group is down by over 4 per cent (source: Lipper from January 31, 2001 to August 25, 2006). He is supported by three other individuals but this team is not the only source of idea generation. Stock ideas are also generated by other fund managers, regional analysts, quantitative analysts, external brokers and the dealers.

The core of the process involves looking at industries and franchises to assess changes in a company’s competitive positioning, the quality of management and the management’s ability to execute business decisions successfully. Rogan believes this analysis allows him to forecast company earn- ings with the aim of identifying unexpected earnings surprises.

Following this analysis, he constructs a portfolio of strategic and tactical holdings. Strategic holdings make up the backbone of the portfolio and are longer-term ideas while the tactical holdings are bought to provide short-term gains.

Selling a stock is just as important as buying it, according to Rogan, and he feels that running a hedge fund has helped to sharpen up his sell discipline.

There is a stop-loss policy set within 10 per cent of the prevailing share price. This means that each stock is reviewed if it falls within this parameter to assess whether or not the fundamental reason for buying it in the first place has changed.

One of the things Rogan takes very seriously is risk. He looks at individual stocks and the risk each will contribute to the overall portfolio. A high-risk stock makes up a smaller proportion of the portfolio and he aims to keeps these types of stocks diversified by sectors and countries. Coupled with the stop-loss policy, this suggests that Rogan places just as much importance on the down side as well as the upside, which in my view is a sensible way to manage a portfolio.

Liquidity is also taken seriously and it is rare to see Rogan invest in companies less than $500m in size. He ensures that he can liquidate the majority of the portfolio within one day if he ever had to, so the focus is on comp- anies with market capitalisations in excess of $1bn.

Rogan runs around $1bn of assets and he feels he can manage up to $3.6bn in this way without having to alter his current strategy.

The main downside to this fund is that it has an annual charge of 2 per cent, which I think is rather on the steeper side, but if the fund does not rank in the top quartile of its peer group at the end of every month on a 12-month rolling basis the charge is lowered to 1.25 per cent for the next month.

I find the overall concept of focus funds very appealing. Each stock in the portfolio has to merit its place and fund managers are therefore required to back each stock with their highest level of conviction. This fund could form a one- stop shop for investors looking for a spicier global fund around which they could diversify and hold other funds.

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