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White knights of equity income

Neil Woodford’s 5.7bn Invesco Perpetual high-income fund has regained its position at the top of Principal Investment Management’s “white list” of UK equity income funds.

The Invesco Perpetual fund pushed Rathbone income, managed by Carl Stick, down into second place following Principal’s half-yearly update of its white list published last week.

Jupiter income fund is third in the table, with another of Woodford’s portfolios, Invesco Perpetual income, in fourth place.

All four funds are constituent members of the Adviser Fund Index series and were also the top four equity income portfolios in the previous white list.

Axa Framlington monthly income, Baring equity income and Lazard UK income are all new entrants to the white list while the three funds dropping out are CF Canlife high income, Liontrust first income and Schroder income.

Principal head of managed funds Charles Brand says: “The results of previous studies have been consistent with this one in that there is great stability in performance from the managers that have consistently strong records.

“However, there were more new entrants to the white list than usual and more swapping of positions within the list. The greater volatility in the results has come from the underlying volatility that we have seen recently in the markets.”

Seven of the top 12 UK equity income funds in the Principal income study are AFI constituents.

Perhaps reassuringly, none of the 12 funds on Principal’s “black list”, which contains the worst performing portfolios, are represented across the three AFIs.

The Sovereign income fund and JP Morgan’s premier equity income and UK equity income portfolios were the three worst performers in the sector, according to the Principal study.

The number of UK equity income funds in the three AFIs ranges from seven constituents in the Aggressive AFI up to 15 funds in the Cautious AFI.

Of the eight AFI funds in the UK equity income sector not appearing on the white list, five are ranked just outside the white list and two funds – JOHCM UK equity income and Neptune income – were launched during the last five years. Funds in the sector must have a track record of more than five years and a value of over 15m to qualify for inclusion in the white list.

The study has been running for 30 years and aims to identify the best and worst performers in the UK equity income sector.

Funds are ranked based on seven different factors that consider performance, volatility and income levels. A higher weighting is attached to the most recent performance period of a fund, with performance measured over the five years to June 30, 2006.

Principal Investment Management is one of 18 panellist groups that help draw up the three AFIs.

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