Best and worst: Funds falter on recession and Japan - Unit Trusts

ANYONE who put money into MGM's pounds 15m UK-invested Special Situations Growth fund five years ago has less than half that investment today, writes Caroline Merrell.

Gregor Logan, investment director, said the fund performed very well until 1987, but stayed in smaller companies, many of which were devastated by the recession. Since restructuring, he said, it has been in the top quartile of its sector for the last 18 months.

Four of the 10 poorest performers over five years were invested in Japan. Investors in the pounds 70m Barclays Unicorn Japan & General unit trust would have lost about a quarter of their investment. John Kelly, investment director, said its mistake was staying invested in smaller companies when the index favoured bigger companies. Over the last 18 months Barclays Unicorn has appointed a new fund manager based in Japan. Over three months it is 48th in its sector of 88 funds.

Top-performing funds over five years tended to be invested in the Far East excluding Japan. And Stewart Ivory said that its highly rated New Pacific fund had benefited from some exposure to Mexico.