Public Mutual Bhd took home 11 individual awards at The Edge-Thomson Reuters Lipper Fund Awards 2017. This was three more than last year.
The Public Tactical Allocation fund won the award for Best Mixed Asset MYR Flexible in the three and five-year categories, Public Far-East Alpha-30 won the award for Best Equity Asia-Pacific in the three-year category and Public Regional Sector won the award for Best Equity Asia-Pacific (Provident) in the five-year category.
Public Mutual CEO Yeoh Kim Hong says the regional funds benefited from the improving economic environment in the North Asian markets, on which they have focused their investments. The performance of the funds is also attributed to its positions in sectors that are exhibiting growth or earnings recovery, such as financial and technology.
Three of Public Mutual’s Islamic funds won this year. Public Islamic Asia Leaders Equity, Public Islamic Asia Tactical Allocation and Public Asia Ittikal won the awards for Best Equity Asia-Pacific Ex-Japan in the three-year category, Best Mixed Asset MYR Flexible in the three-year category and Best Equity Asia-Pacific in the three-year category respectively.
By having positions in the technology space, Public Mutual’s Islamic funds were able to benefit from the increase in internet usage amid subdued growth in the traditional economy, says Yeoh.
Its China-focused regional funds — PB China Asean Equity and PB China Pacific Equity — won the awards for Best Equity Asia-Pacific Ex-Japan in the three-year category and Best Equity Asia-Pacific in the five-year category respectively. The funds’ holdings in Chinese internet and technology stocks saw more resilient earnings as China’s economy experiences moderating growth. Investments in select Asean infrastructure stocks also helped to boost PB China Asean Equity’s performance.
Public Bond, which won the award for Best Bond MYR in the five and 10-year categories, adopted a long duration strategy to capitalise on the low interest rates prior to the uptrend in bond yields towards the end of last year.
Yeoh also attributes the fund house’s success to its investment philosophy, which is formed by its fundamental research and analysis. “Our funds focused on quality large and mid-cap stocks, with select exposure to smaller-cap stocks, to ride the elevated levels of volatility in the domestic and regional markets in the last three to five years,” she says.
This year, the fund house’s regional and China-focused funds will continue to zero in on sectors with resilient earnings growth. It will also have positions in sectors that are poised for earnings recovery, such as financial, energy and basic materials, as these sectors are expected to benefit from a reflationary environment amid rising interest rates. Its Islamic funds will continue to have positions in the technology sector to leverage the structural growth of internet usage in the region.
Yeoh says elevated volatility in the global bond market is anticipated in view of the divergent monetary policies of major central banks. “The Public Bond Fund will look to capitalise on investment opportunities if volatility in the bond market presents attractive risk-return trade-off for bonds that are underpinned by solid credit fundamentals,” she adds.
Yeoh says Public Mutual’s favoured sectors this year will be those that benefit from a reflationary environment and have positive secular growth trends, such as healthcare and technology. “Companies that are able to increase sales by gaining market share or introducing new products, as well as sectors that benefit from ongoing changes in lifestyle, demographics and technological trends, are expected to perform well.”
With the inflows of new funds and gains registered by select equity funds, Public Mutual’s assets under management rose to RM69.65 billion at end-2016 from RM64.33 billion in 2015. — By Khairani Afifi Noordin