Reliance Top 200 Fund

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Now its called Reliance Large Cap Fund

Sailesh Raj Bhan joined Reliance asset management company in 2003. At that time, he was an experienced research analyst without much portfolio management experience. He took on the role of a portfolio manager at the fund company in June 2004 and has since gained considerable experience running both diversified and sector funds. In our opinion, he has grown into an accomplished manager, with his funds producing a noteworthy track record.

Reliance Top 200 Fund investment approach underwent a change in August 2011 to allow Bhan more freedom. Previously it was a pure-play large-cap strategy known as Reliance Equity Advantage Fund, with the portfolio’s sector weights firmly aligned to those of the index. Clearly, executing such a strategy constrained the manager. So, the approach was modified to give Bhan more leeway, with the investment universe expanded to the top 200 companies by market cap, thereby allowing investments in mid-caps. Though the weights of a few sectors may still somewhat align with those of the BSE 200 Index based on Bhan’s view on those sectors, he is now willing to make bigger sector deviations than previously. While Bhan is a proficient stock-picker in the small/mid-cap segment, his track record suggests that he is at his best using an unconstrained approach. In effect, the current approach helps him play to his strengths. Expectedly, the same has worked well for the fund too.

Bhan’s ability to pick fundamentally sound stocks and understand long-term trends has also benefited the fund. His willingness to take larger exposure to small/mid-caps if the opportunity arises and be more liberal with sector bets may result in the fund’s performance diverging from a typical peer over the short term. For instance, in the upturn of 2012, the larger small/mid-cap exposure helped it feature among the best performers in the Category. Conversely, in 2016 the fund underperformed 80% of its category peers.

But we draw confidence from the presence of a skilled manager and a research-intensive investment approach. We believe these factors can hold the fund in good stead over the long haul.

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ICICI Prudential Dynamic – Flexi Cap Equity Fund

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ICICI Prudential Dynamic is now ICICI Prudential Multi Asset Fund

ICICI Prudential Dynamic fund is a Flexi Cap Value style fund managed by Sankaran Naren. The ability to think differently and pick stocks that have the potential to become a big thing tomorrow is critical in this strategy. When markets run up and valuations seem stretched, Naren reduces net equity exposure in the portfolio. He deploys a rules-based approach using the historical price/book value of the market to determine fair value and in turn tweak cash allocations. The portfolio has a large-cap bias with a value orientation and focuses on stocks that have significant long-term growth potential. His philosophy is to ensure the fund performs better than peers when markets fall, even if the strategy hurts performance in rising markets, thereby ensuring robust performance over a market cycle.

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IDFC Premier Equity fund

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IDFC Premier Equity fund is not IDFC Multicap Fund

IDFC Premier Equity fund

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Franklin India Bluechip Fund

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Fund Manager: Anand Radhakrishnan
Process: The fund manager uses a large-cap model portfolio as his base and constructs his investment portfolio around it.
Performance: On Radhakrishnan’s watch (April 2007 to November 2017), the fund (up 13%) has beaten its benchmark, the Sensex (up 9%) as well as 75% of

Franklin India Bluechip Fund is a true-blue large-cap fund.

Anand Radhakrishnan’s portfolio displays strong convictions and deviates significantly from the benchmark index and category peers both in terms of stock picks and sector weights. For instance, as of October 2017, Radhakrishnan is underweight the consumer staples sector (7%) vis-à-vis the benchmark index (10%) given the sector’s rich valuations. Instead, he prefers stocks in the healthcare sector as he believes they have reasonable growth prospects, generate steady cash flows, and trade at cheaper valuations. Radhakrishnan prefers private-sector entities over their public-sector counterparts, in line with his belief that the former offer more robust business models and superior operational efficiencies. For instance, private-sector banks such as HDFC Bank and ICICI typically feature as core holdings.

Hence, the portfolio’s core exposure continues to be in the private banks and consumption-oriented stocks. In the recent times, the manager has shifted his focus on stocks which stand to benefit from the pickup in urban consumption than rural consumption. Radhakrishnan will back his convictions, but isn’t stubborn. Hence, in the wake of increasing competition in the telecom space he didn’t hesitate to trim exposure in one of his top and long-held holdings, Bharti Airtel, in the past. The cash exposure rarely accounts for more than 10% of assets. The fund manager is fairly valuation-conscious and sells/underweights stocks he believes are fully valued.

This has helped the fund fare competitively versus peers in market downturns. Also, he does not shy away from taking big long-term contrarian bets if he believes the issue has good growth prospects but he may face near-term headwinds. His overweight positions in the telecom sector vis-à-vis peers this year and exposure to cement stocks in 2013 are examples of this approach. Radhakrishnan trades roughly 5%-10% of the portfolio. These tend to be established names whose price points he understands well. The fund tends to perform well in market corrections, given his emphasis on quality and valuations.

The years 2008 and 2011 are a case in point, as despite lower cash allocation, his skilled stock selection helped the fund outscore most of the competition. The fund closed 2009 and 2010 in the top quartile, thanks to some smart investments in financials (private-sector banks) and technology stocks in 2009, and consumer staples and technology sectors in 2010. Radhakrishnan’s top picks, such as Bharti Airtel and Infosys Tech, were the main detractors from the fund’s performance in 2012, which was a down year.

While Radhakrishnan’s contrarian picks from the metal and mining sector fared poorly in 2013, relatively lower small/mid-cap exposure dragged its performance down vis-à-vis peers in 2014. The fund had a good run in 2015 and 2016 as it outperformed 73% and 79% of category peers, respectively. However, the fund has struggled this year (until November 2017) as the manager’s exposure in areas where cash payment is the primary source of transaction was severely affected after demonetisation last year. Also, exposure to the healthcare sector (particularly Dr. Reddy, Lupin, and Sun Pharma) dragged its performance down.

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IDFC Dynamic Equity Fund

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AUM: ₹358 crore

1-year return: 14.67%

FUND MANAGERS: Arpit Kapoor, Arvind Subramanian and Sumit Agrawal

The fund uses a quantitative model to determine the exposure in equity and debt markets. The approach used to determine the equity and debt allocation employs valuation factor namely month-end weighted average P/E Ratio of Nifty50 index. So, if the PE band is less than 12, the fund allocation to equity goes up to 90-100%, and if the PE is between 22 and 26, the fund has a 40-55% exposure to equities. Stock selection is actively managed, with the fund sticking having a higher exposure to large caps at elevated levels and increasing midcap exposure when valuations are cheap.

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Kotak Opportunities Fund

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Kotak Opportunities Fund

Kotak Opportunities Fund is a multi-cap fund that invests in sectors and scrips across market capitalisations. Unlike Kotak Select Focus, which is also a multi-cap fund but relies on sector calls in addition to picking stocks, Kotak Opportunities Fundrelies purely on its stock selection. For instance, Kotak Select Focus, portfolio doesn’t have media stocks as it doesn’t find the sector to be as attractive, but it has Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd’s shares.

Harsha Upadhyaya, chief investment officer-equity, Kotak Mahindra AMC, does not churn much. “The fund is focused more towards large-caps and the endeavor is to invest 65-70% here,” he says. Investments in companies like UPL Ltd, Coromandel International Ltd, and staying underweight in information technology and pharmaceutical sector helped the fund in the last couple of years. Upadhyaya also avoided telecom stocks as freebies offered by Reliance Jio affected the earnings of listed telecom firms.

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Aditya Birla SL Top 100 Fund

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Markets are touching new peaks almost every day. There is euphoria in the market, but a sharp fall can upset the ongoing party. To deal with such uncertainties, it makes sense to be with schemes with focus on large-sized companies because the possibility of a massive fall in large-sized companies is not as big as in mid- and small-sized companies. Also, large-sized companies are better equipped to deal with high volatility given the strength of their balance sheet, dominant market share and better cash flows from operations. Among large-cap schemes, Birla Sun Life Top 100 should serve as a good investment option.

Managed by Mahesh Patil, the scheme follows a buy-and-hold strategy and dedicates a large part of its portfolio to large-sized companies. In the past three years, Birla Sun Life Top 100, a five-star rated scheme, has not only beaten its benchmark, Nifty 50, but also its peers. In the past three- and five-year periods, the scheme has delivered 11% and 17% returns (compounded annual growth rate), while Nifty 50 has given 8% and 12% returns. In the past six months, Patil has enhanced exposure to contrarian bets such as energy stocks. Though these stocks may be out of favour in the market, they have earnings’ visibility in the coming quarters.

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ICICI Prudential Balanced Advantage Fund

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ICICI Prudential Balanced Advantage Fund

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L&T Tax Advantage Fund

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L&T Tax Advantage Fund

We had only two equity-linked savings schemes (ELSS). So, enter L&T Tax Advantage Fund , earlier known as Fidelity Tax Advantage Fund. L&T Investment Management Ltd has also turned around and it’s time to put more money behind these fund houses. We bring three of L&T Investment Management’s schemes in Mint50 this year.

L&T Tax Advantage Fund is an ELSS. It offers section 80C tax benefits up to Rs1.5 lakh and therefore comes with a 3-year lock-in. Fund manager Soumendra Nath Lahiri, who is also the fund house’s chief investment officer, doesn’t churn his portfolios frequently. Its portfolio turnover ratio is at a lowof 30-38%. L&T Tax Advantage Fund returned 18.62% and 22.41% in the last 5 and 3 years, respectively. Lahiri expects the economy to pick up and has invested accordingly, with high allocation to banks, construction projects, industrial products and the cement sector. “Government spending will continue in infrastructure areas where it is present like defence sector, roads and railways.

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How to Choose Best Balanced Fund

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How to Picking a balanced fund

Balanced funds pack the advantages of both equity and debt funds and are fast gaining popularity among investors

Balanced funds were supposed to be a one-stop-solution for investors who were not savvy enough to juggle multiple equity and debt funds. But lately, the balanced-fund category has become quite complex, too, with the conventional 65-35 balanced fund now complemented by many new sub-breeds. So here’s your ready reckoner on choosing the right scheme.

Decide on your objective
What’s the risk-return mix that you are comfortable with for your investments? This question has now become critical to selecting the right kind of balanced fund for your portfolio. If your objective is to beat debt returns by a big margin and you don’t mind taking capital losses or poor returns in some years, the conventional balanced fund which invests a minimum 65 per cent of its portfolio in equities and the rest in debt is a good fit.

But if you are wary of equity volatility and are only looking for slightly better returns than debt, the new breed of balanced-advantage funds or equity-savings funds should suit you well. These funds park about 30 to 35 per cent of their portfolio in stocks, another 30 to 35 per cent in equity arbitrage opportunities (for low-risk, liquid-fund-like returns) and the remaining in bonds. In effect, while two-thirds of their portfolios are in debt-like investments, they still fetch you the tax benefits of an equity-oriented fund.

Old-style balanced funds are also better suited to earning capital gains over a five-year plus horizon and are bad choices to earn regular income. Balanced-advantage and equity-savings funds are better suited to delivering income than capital gains.

Equity debt mix of Balanced Fund
While tax laws require balanced funds to maintain a minimum 65 per cent equity allocation, there’s no maximum limit specified. In practice, balanced funds maintain anywhere between 65 and 75 per cent allocation to equities. Here, apart from looking at the current equity-debt mix, it is also important to check out a fund’s past allocation to know how far it takes its equity exposures if bullish on the market.

Funds with a propensity to take a 70 per cent plus equity allocation are obviously more risky than those that stay near the floor value of 60 or 65 per cent.

What is the allocation strategy of Balanced Fund ?
You also need to understand whether the fund follows a tactical or steady-state allocation strategy to rebalance between the two assets. Tactical balanced funds try to time the market by owning more equities when they are bullish about stocks. They reduce the equity portion when they fear downside. This strategy can pay off through higher returns in bull markets and lower losses in falling markets if the fund gets its calls right. But that’s a big ‘if.’ Steady-state balanced funds stick to a preset mix of equity and debt, no matter what the market conditions. They strictly rebalance their portfolios when the equity or debt portions hit limits.

Tactical allocators expose investors to more risk because the fund manager, apart from choosing the right stocks and bonds, has to make the right calls on market timing.

How much risky is Balanced Fund ?
Balanced funds are supposed to be lower-risk products than pure equity funds. But some balanced funds can turn out to be riskier than pure equity funds by virtue of their aggressive investing strategies, both on equity and debt.

In the equity portion, a big determinant of risk is the portfolio break-up between large, mid and small-cap stocks. The higher the weights in mid and small caps, the more the volatility and the possibility of losses are. Of course, a higher mid and small-cap allocation can also pay off in bull markets, as it has done in the last three years.

In the debt part of a balanced-fund portfolio, the manager can take both duration and credit risks to bump up returns. They can own very long-term bonds, betting on falling interest rates. If the rates rise, the strategy will yield losses. If the fund owns AA or lower-rated corporate bonds to improve yields, defaults or downgrades can cause sudden NAV blips.

Funds which combine a large-cap-oriented equity portfolio with a short maturity and high quality debt portfolio are the best fits for conservative folks.

Study the track record of Balanced Fund
As both debt and stock-market conditions can heavily influence balanced-fund performance, it is important for balanced-fund investors not to choose schemes based on recent returns alone. A scheme’s ability to navigate both stock market and interest rate cycles over the long term is critical to your wealth-building plans.

Checking out a scheme’s 10-year track record is your best bet to gauge how good it is at navigating multiple rate and market cycles. At this juncture, calendar year returns relative to the benchmark and category may be a far better measure of a balanced fund’s consistency than trailing one, three or five-year returns.

To check on a balanced fund’s propensity for risk, assess its best and worst one-year returns during its lifetime. The gap between the two equips you with a good understanding of the risk-return trade off in the fund.

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