Money: My favourite investment - From backing Gates to minding the Gap

My favourite investment: tips each month from a City expert
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The Independent Online
Katherine Garrett-Cox looks after all US investments at Hill Samuel. With her team of seven, including five fund managers, she is responsible for more than pounds 2.5bn worth of investments.

Like many graduates, Katherine Garrett-Cox stumbled into fund management because she liked the people and the set-up. But once she started work at Fidelity she discovered a much more compelling interest: US equities. "Now I never want to change. I always wanted to do something that I would enjoy, and what's better than following the biggest and most exciting stock market in the world?"

Her investment tip is to look at the strength of a firm's management."This is the most important factor. We always look for leaders in their sector with strong brand positions, a good and consistent performance record and, hopefully, undervalued future growth prospects."

She always meets the managers of a company before investing in it. "Then we'll have a follow-up meeting once or twice a year. My team sees around 700 companies a year. But when we invest, we expect to keep the holding for at least two or three years if not longer."

Her biggest holding is Microsoft, which accounts for just under 5 per cent of the pounds 87m Hill Samuel American Growth fund. This was the first stock she bought for the unit trust. "Back in 1993, few people in London were buying into the company. I purchased the shares at the equivalent of $10 (pounds 6.40) each. Now they stand at nearly $100 and the group is valued at $470bn, making it the largest company in the world."

A more recent investment has been Gap. She bought into the retailer at the beginning of the year at the equivalent of $45 a share. Today the shares stand at around $60.

"In the past, Gap was not too shareholder friendly. The managers were too busy running their tight ship to see potential European shareholders. Now they have changed their attitude. I believe the company has a great future. Its management is first rate, it is growing internationally and has accelerated its earnings, and it has a strong strategy for selling over the internet."

Her personal investment portfolio consists largely of investments in the unit trusts she manages. But Ms Garrett-Cox has also bought a boat. "I bought the catamaran as a pres- ent for my husband, but it's my best investment in terms of satisfaction and enjoyment. It cost just over pounds 5,000.

"While I know it will probably depreciate in value over time, I still hope that when we trade it in for something bigger and better it will show a profit."


Age: 31.

Studied modern history at Durham University.

Worked for Fidelity before joining Hill Samuel six years ago.

Her speciality is large companies.