Best and worst

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The Independent Online
Tory and Labour parliamentarians may disagree with each other or even their own parties over Europe, but - at least for some investors - the Continent has delivered attractive returns in the past few years.

Performance of the123 funds in this unit trust sector was generally poor over one year. During this period, the average value of £100 invested in a European fund dropped to £88.76, once initial charges are added.

This has broadly reflected tough investment conditions during that period, although performance has varied with the weighting by funds on individual countries. Despite initial optimism, Italy would not have been as wise a choice as Germany for much of last year.

Overall, three-year and five-year figures have been much better. Average growth within the sector has been 36.9 per cent over three years and 27.39 per cent over five, confirming the advice of experts that it is important not to view investments as a short-term strategy.

Among the star performers over short and longer periods is Morgan Grenfell's European Growth fund. Investors have placed more than £360m in this unit trust, where £100 would have grown to £107.95 in the past 12 months. It came top in its sector over three and five years.

Another consistent performer was Gartmore's Select Opportunities unit trust, which has remained in the top 25 per cent of funds in the sector.

Lazard's European Growth fund is another regular performer, never out of the top 20 over the same periods.

Kleinwort Benson's European Special has shown rapid improvement, moving from near-bottom over five years to the top third over three years.

In the 12 months to the begining of this month, the fund ranked second in our table. Investors would have seen their money grow by 3.79 per cent.

UK unit trusts, Europe

(Excluding two top-ranked hedge funds)

Top 5 1 yr 3 yr 5 yr

Morgan Grenfell Euro Growth 107.95 (3) 205.48 (1) 190.45 (1)

KB European Special 103.79 (4) 140.33 (46) 109.70 (92)

Gartmore Euro Select Opp 98.23 (5) 160.87 (7) 139.39 (23)

Schroder Euro Smaller Co's 97.90 (6) 142.51 (38) 138.16 (26)

Lazard European Growth 97.29 (7) 151.76 (16) 163.15 (4)

Bottom 5

Old Mutual Swiss Equities 83.32 (118) 166.16 (5) 153.95 (9)

Laurentian European 83.26 (119) 132.59 (73) 105.06 (98)

Invesco French Growth 82.51 (120) 134.26 (70) 127.15 (50)

TSB European 82.17 (121) 129.20 (89) 121.51 (69)

Hill Samuel European 81.19 (122) 122.55(108) 117.22 (77)

The table shows the value on 6 February of £100 invested over periods of one, three and five years. Prices offer-to-bid; net income re-invested. First ranking on one-year basis; brackets show ranking for each time-frame.

Source: Micropal