Best and worst: Some good from small packages - Unit Trusts

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The Independent Online
UNIT TRUSTS specialising in smaller American companies are to be found near both the top and bottom of Micropal's one-year figures.

Schroder believes that a crucial element in the success of its US Smaller Companies trust is that its fund managers are based in New York. 'We do lots of company visits,' Rod Duncan, managing director, said. 'We believe in kicking the tyres of companies.' And many of the companies in which the trust invests may be small in American terms, but very substantial in the UK.

The Thornton American Smaller Companies trust, by contrast, languishes at 1,311 in the table. It cites its 30 per cent exposure to the difficult and relatively illiquid Canadian market as a significant depressant. 'When prices are acceptable we are reducing our exposure in this area,' Mark Lynam, the investment director, said. 'That will remedy the situation over the longer term.'

Meanwhile, Providence Capitol attributes the success of its specialist Thailand fund to the growth of foreign investment there and greater political stability. Ashok Shah, its manager, said: 'The market is still reasonably inexpensive compared with other markets in the region.'

Aetna, which gets the wooden spoon for the performance of two of its funds, said both its Japanese and its Iberian funds have been leading the market since it took action to improve their progress a few months ago. The London office has taken over the management of the Iberian fund from Banco Banif, the Madrid fund manager which had advised the trust fund until last October. Spain has been one of the best performers among European countries over the last few months.

----------------------------------------------------------------- BEST AND WORST UNIT TRUSTS ----------------------------------------------------------------- The best pounds 1 Providence Capitol Thailand 165.62 2 Perpetual American Smaller Companies 156.17 3 Schroder US Smaller Companies 151.58 4 City of London Emerging Markets 148.42 5 GT Orient 147.47 The worst 1310 Aetna Iberian Growth 81.89 1311 Thornton American Smaller Companies 81.11 1312 Mercury Gold & General 80.57 1313 Aetna Japan Growth 74.10 1314 NM Japan Smaller Companies 72.60 Return on pounds 100 over one year, offer-to-bid, income reinvested ----------------------------------------------------------------- Source: Micropal -----------------------------------------------------------------