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Trudging Along

The first contrarian fund can complement a portfolio. It continues to impress with its category beating performance but investors must be patient to reap the gains

Being contrarian in nature to focus on out-of favour stocks, the fund had a very low exposure to technology in 1999. So no great returns that year and the next.

But, it fell by just 5.52 per cent in 2001. The next year it gave a return of 32.74 per cent (category average: 19.43 per cent). 2003 saw it dip from the top quartile position when it gave a return just above the category average.

In 2004, it shot to fame as the second best-performing fund with a 64.49 per cent return (category average: 25.84 per cent). In 2005, it was the third best performing fund with a 71 per cent return (category average: 46.70 per cent). The fund has a large-cap orientation. Last year, large-caps on an average occupied 57.80 per cent of the portfolio.

The new fund manager in mid-2005 focused on toning down aggression. It is extremely diversified across 49 stocks (as on December 31) with the top three sectors accounting for just around 36 per cent of the total allocation. The topmost holding - Jai Prakash Associates - accounts for just 4.72 per cent while the top three stocks constitute just around 13 per cent of the portfolio. This is a significant shift from its earlier aggressive stance.

Besides stocks, the fund also took concentrated sector bets: auto in August 2004 (25.38 per cent), construction in January 2005 (22.40 per cent), metals and metal products in February 2005 (19.48 per cent).

Not so any longer. As on December 2006, the topmost sector - construction - accounted for 14.48 per cent of the portfolio. The fund has been bullish on the construction and automobile sector this entire year though allocation to these two sectors has decreased over the months. As on February 5, 2007, its one-year, two-year, three-year and five-year returns are way ahead of the category average.