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Select and thrive

My all-time favourite UK fund manager is Nigel Thomas, who runs the Axa Framlington UK select opportunities fund. I have been recommending his various funds for over 20 years. He joined Axa just over five years ago from ABN Amro and has since grown the UK select opportunities fund by 141.5 per cent to December 31, 2007, being placed 13th out of 226 funds in the sector and beating the average fund by over 50 percentage points.

Thomas is one of the few managers who outperforms both in bear and bull markets and over five-year periods, he has always been in the top decile.

He has achieved his great success by being pragmatic and flexible, cutting losses and taking profits whenever he feels it is right.

He also changes the mix of the fund by being heavily into small caps or mid-caps when they are performing best and then switching to large caps when circumstances change.

Unlike many fund managers, Thomas is massively underweight in financials and consumer goods, whose shares are very sensitive to the fortunes of the UK economy. He holds no banks, property firms or housebuilders.

His bigger investments are now dominated by defensive shares such as BG Group, BP and Unilever. Other bigger holdings include Weir Group, Hunting, National Grid, Rolls-Royce and Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance.

He has recently added to some of his holdings such as BPA Aviation, Imagination Technology, GlaxoSmithKline and Elementis.

This is an ideal fund for those looking to the long term and to take advantage of the recent setback in the market. It is one of the few UK equity funds that I would recommend now.

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