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Unicorn tops FundCalibre’s best performing equity funds

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Small-cap specialist Unicorn has outperformed its peers by 35.5 per cent over the past five years, landing it at the top of FundCalibre’s annual actively-managed equity funds list.

Emerging market and Asia specialist Stewart Investors and Old Mutual Global Investors, which had one of the highest number of qualifying funds, were second and third, outperforming by 28.3 per cent and 23.4 per cent respectively over the same period.

Unicorn outperformed NFU Mutual, the bottom of the list, by 50 per cent. All of its qualifying funds recorded double digit returns.

The annual report, which analyses the five-year performance of actively-managed equity funds, found style matters, with growth fund groups, such as Baillie Gifford and Axa Framlington, performing well, as did small-cap specialists, such as Unicorn and Marlborough.

In contrast, funds with a value focus, such as M&G Investments and Aberdeen Asset Management, have struggled.

In the past five years, 2012 was the only time value performance pipped growth in the Global sector, returning 11.4 per cent compared to growth’s 11.17 per cent, according to data from FE.

FundCalibre managing director Darius McDermott says: “The top 10 is a mix of houses, from boutiques to global businesses. Key to their success was not their size or dominance, but a real focus on fund management.

“The goal of the index is to highlight to investors those fund houses that are consistently the best stock-pickers and able to repeat their excellence in equity fund management.”

The report pointed out that funds from the retail banks – Santander, HSBC and Halifax – were all ranked in the bottom quartile of the league table.

The biggest improvement in performance in the top 10 was boutique firm River and Mercantile, which rose to fifth place from number 14 last year and outperformed its peers by 19.8 per cent. The biggest improvement overall was Aviva, which rose to 25th on the list from 49 last year and outperformed by 6.4 per cent.

Those that fell the most included JOHCM, which went from fourth place to 24th with outperformace of 7.2 per cent. The report noted that while its two Asian funds saw strong performance last year, they did not yet have a five-year track record so did not qualify for the index.

Scottish Widows’ HIFML range of funds and Aberdeen both dropped 11 places with outperformance of 0.88 per cent and -11.9 per cent respectively.

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