Blue Chip: MAM on danger list

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The Independent Online
Last week, I wrote about Schroders, and why, despite the crash, it remained a strong long-term buy. This week, figures from Mercury Asset Management (MAM) painted a picture of a company in rude health. Pre-tax profits, earnings per share and shareholders' funds all showed good gains, writes Richard Phillips.

Yet figures from Caps, the actuarial performance company, raised questions over the long-term outlook for the company which has probably, more than any other, set the standards for other UK fund managers to live up to.

Profits continue to grow, but the performance of the funds that MAM manages has been slipping.

Over the past year in particular, the performance figures do not make pleasant reading. Mercury's MFS mixed equity and property fund came in 67th out of 70 funds for the year to date. It was 47th a year ago, and 20th in 1995.

The question for investors is whether this is an inexorable decline, or whether MAM's management, led by Carol Galley, can put things right.

It would be wrong to write off the shares at this stage. But as performance dwindles, trustees will be only too ready to vote with their feet.