Mark Dampier: Put your time and energy into a global growth fund

The Analyst

If like me you are an avid reader of economic and stock market bulletins or opinion pieces, you are in danger of being rather like the proverbial rabbit caught in the headlights, not knowing which way to move. Lately economic news has hardly been very favourable, helping to push the stock markets into a tailspin. While it is hardly difficult to make a bearish case, perhaps this is the light at the end of the tunnel. The very fact that it is so easy to be bearish often means the worst-case scenario doesn't happen.

If you have taken the decision to invest your money yet remain unsure exactly where to invest it, one option is a global fund. Many global funds are ignored by investors who prefer to make their own country selection decisions. Yet I feel investors thinking in such a way miss out. I have always thought the ideal investment is something you can buy and hold, not touching it for years and years. This also means you can let the fund manager get on and make the critical decisions on country and stock selection, letting him have trouble sleeping at night. It does however mean that you need to find a real free thinker and someone who isn't constrained by benchmarks.

I think James Thomson of Rathbone Global Opportunities is just such a manager. Now it is fair to say that if you look at his record you will see that 2008 did him no favours. However, he believes this taught him a valuable lesson in trying to "weatherproof" the portfolio and this is no longer just a bull market fund that will subsequently underperform in a bear market. The careful management of risks and outperforming whenever possible in all market conditions are at the forefront of his approach.

Running a growth fund means that traditionally Mr Thomson wouldn't buy classic value type stocks. Indeed, he hasn't gone out of his way to do so now, but in an excellent demonstration of lateral thinking he believes he has found a route into traditionally defensive sectors while retaining the prospect of significant growth.

Virbac, a French pet pharmaceutical company, is a good example. It does not have the same clinical risks as human pharmaceutical companies and many of its drugs are simply modified versions of those already approved for human use. So it has similar characteristics to a normal pharmaceutical, but with less downside in terms of patent expiries and R&D costs. Another example is Swedish Match, a tobacco company with a difference. It has no exposure to cigarettes and actually specialises in snuff, snus and chewing tobacco. Nothing I particularly like, but it has an 87 per cent market share for snus in Sweden and 80 per cent in Norway. Snus is a moist tobacco powder that originates from a variant of dried snuff and is consumed by placing it under the lip. The company has experienced 18 per cent earnings growth every year since 2005.

A growing theme within the portfolio is exposure to Middle East energy development. This is gained through construction and engineering companies such as Petrofac which is benefiting from expansion in the region. Elsewhere, the fund has benefited from emerging markets commodities, though exposure is gained indirectly through Singaporean listed companies. Ultimately, as you might expect from an unconstrained growth fund holding 50 dynamic companies, much of the performance has been driven by individual stock ideas like the property website Right Move, which has seen significant strength in its share price.

This is very much a fund driven by the manager's best ideas, and he looks to identify businesses with superior growth prospects that remain undiscovered. The fund is £80m in size and tends to have a bias towards medium-sized and smaller companies, the traditional hunting ground for tomorrow's winners. While there may be some short-term volatility I firmly believe this is a fund you can tuck away for the long-term, letting James Thomson worry about country allocation and stock selection.

Mark Dampier is head of research at Hargreaves Lansdown, the asset manager, financial adviser and stockbroker. For more details about the funds included in this column, visit

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Morrissey pictured in 2013
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

    Training Programme Manager (Learning and Development)-London

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...

    1st Line Support Technician / Application Support

    £20000 - £24000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider of web based m...

    Team Secretary - (Client Development/Sales Team) - Wimbledon

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...

    Day In a Page

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices