Funds Hub

Money managers under the microscope

No defence

May 27, 2009

Sheltering from the credit crisis in so-called defensive stocks could prove a disappointment to investors and a great opportunity for short-sellers, according to Liontrust hedge fund manager James Inglis-Jones.

rtr226iq2Inglis-Jones, who runs a hedge fund for Liontrust and who recently took on the First Income fund after the departure of star manager Jeremy Lang, has short positions in sectors such as tobacco and pharmaceuticals and has recently added more.

“It’s an interesting opportunity when something is seen as safe,” he told me. “When the company delivers a disappointment the payoff can be pretty good.”

In February Hedge Hub reported Crispin Odey saying defensives were becoming “interesting shorts” and that he “certainly wouldn’t own them”.

However, with markets having bounced so much recently – the FTSE 100 is up by a quarter since March — and many defensives having missed out on most of the rally, are defensives still expensive or do they offer better relative value now?

Much of that depends on whether the rally has legs or is a dead cat bounce. Barclays Wealth came out today saying it is ”shifting to the tactical offensive”, adding, “The big question now is whether the pick-up is temporary or the real thing. We suspect the latter.” Several big names have already pointed to a new bull market, but after a 25 percent rally where do we go from here?

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