Aberdeen, a small-cap specialist fund founded by a former Goldman Sachs banker, is on the verge of delivering an average return for its investors of 19% over the last 12 months. The shares are up 11% in the past three weeks as insiders worry that a significant bull market may be drawing to a close.
Aberdeen is positioning for the turnaround with increasing bullishness, and it’s not alone, with funds like Aberdeen Standard Investments and Jupiter entering to attract more clients from this area. As investors seek increasingly higher returns, some of the world’s biggest names in finance are getting involved on both sides of the Atlantic.
Aberdeen has a £100 million ($157 million) portfolio of small and mid-cap companies, including family businesses and technology companies. The manager, based in London, is run by former Goldman Sachs banker Andrew Browning, the only UK-based member of Goldman’s emerging markets team. His strategy is to take money from wily investors such as hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds and wealthy individuals looking for a return above 12%.
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Browning, who set up Abrdn with his wife in 2005, says that the next stage of capital recovery drives the current bull market after the dot-com bubble burst two decades ago. The fund is focused on companies with low debt, high returns on capital and business models that are resilient enough to survive the economic downturn.
It is overweight on small caps and companies in sectors such as healthcare and energy. This strategy has helped so far, but investors may be increasingly nervous about a possible correction that could draw back the rally that stretches back to mid-2007. Browning is, however, confident that more considerable funds may be slow to get involved in the small-cap market partially because some managers prefer larger caps and will wait to see if the rally goes any further.
The investment manager’s focus on family businesses is also paying off, as these companies tend to focus on stability over short-term profit growth.