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Anoop Bhaskar led the fund from July 2011 to December 2015 and, in our opinion, ranks among the best managers in the large-cap segment. Vetri Subramaniam replaced Bhaskar in February 2017. He is an experienced and a skilled portfolio manager, as could be seen from his previous stint at Invesco, where he sailed through the global economic slowdown fomented by the financial crisis of 2008 and built the business from scratch.
Subramaniam brought some effective changes to the fund’s investment strategy. The UTI Opportunities Fund is now managed as a flexi-cap fund, versus a previous large-cap bias, by gradually increasing the allocation in the small/mid-cap space. He also has changed the fund’s benchmark to the S&P BSE 200 Index from the S&P BSE 100 Index with an objective to measure the fund performance with the correct benchmark. Subramaniam also ensured that all the strategies within the fund house are well differentiated and has reorganised the equity team, aiming to push for style discipline among the managers.
The manager follows a mix of a top-down and bottom-up approach. While analysing sectors, the fund manager looks for fundamental characteristics of the companies, such as a long history of generating positive cash flows, superior return on capital employed, and sustainable competitive advantages. He emphasises these factors more than the relative valuation while choosing stocks. However, at times he does pay heed to the relative valuations and look for potential for mean reversal, focusing mainly on depressed stocks with low ROCE and return on equity.
Over the past few years the fund has been struggling to outperform its peers. However, with the recent restructuring and tweaking of the portfolio, we expect to see a positive outcome over the long run. However, we need time to see some signs of a turnaround before we build our conviction. Hence, while our long-term outlook for the fund remains intact
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