East Capital Russian Fund was top dog in the noughties

Michael Hanson-Lawson's fund was up 1,524% during the decade, but, tantalisingly, it could have been up over 2,000%.

The best-performing Ucits fund of the last decade was the East Capital Russian Fund, according to the global fund database of Morningstar.

That fund was up 1,523.66% in dollar terms. If the decade had ended when the fund was at its high-water mark, in May 2008, it would have been up around 2000%. It then tumbled by about half, but then -- by registering a 150% return last year -- took its position at the head of the league tables.

In second and third places, respectively, were HQ China fund with a 962% return and Parvest China Fund with a 926% return.

The open-ended East Capital Russian Fund has a 2.5% management fee and no performance fee. Having launched in 1998, it is invested 40% in oil and gas and 17% in financials.

Despite rising 176% since the market bottom on 24 January last year, Russia is still a strong candidate for future market increases, reckons Michael Hanson-Lawson, chief executive of East Capital Asia.

"We still like the classic emerging-market consumer story there, and Russian corporates have superior earnings growth to other Bric countries [41.5%, according to broker consensus]," he says. "Russia has low public debt to GDP [6%]. It hasn't borrowed in the last 10 years, but is expected to do a bond issue during the next couple of quarters, and that should be received well."

In terms of valuations, the Russian market's price-to-earnings ratio is 7.4x and the price-to-book ratio is 1.2.

As a result of its natural-resources bias, argues Hanson-Lawson, the Russian economy is most vulnerable to sharp commodity-price fluctuation, inflationary shocks or China's economy coming off the rails.

The firm also backed up its view of Russia as opportunity-rich with the launch of its East Capital Special Opportunities Fund last year.

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