Fund Manager’s Diary

Thursday Previous contributors to this section of the magazine discussed their jet-set lifestyles to various destinations such as France, Hong Kong, India and Singapore. It is 9.30am on a breezy Thursday morning and I am walking up the A5 near Cricklewood, London.

We are here to see a company that has come up on my value screen as a good generator of cash. The firm started off selling low-priced phone calls and now offers gas and electricity to its customers, with the added benefit of providing this all on one bill. Two hours later, having learnt all we could hope for about the business, we return to the office.

In the afternoon I find myself in a more promising location – Windmill Street in Soho. We are here to meet the chief executive of a recruitment company. The shares of recruitment companies have performed poorly over the past six months, and we thought it is about time we got to know them better. Have they fallen far enough?

Friday I listen to a conference call from Bovis Homes. It is an area I have been investigating having sold all our house building stocks in 2007, so I am wondering if they have fallen enough to reinvest. At lunchtime I take a new marketing recruit out for a curry. He is off ill all the following week.

Saturday Having completed a six-mile race last April, a friend and I egged one another on to run the London Marathon. The punishing training schedule sits on my desk as a stern reminder. I dodge the tourists in the morning, as I jog beside the Thames to Westminster.

Sunday I run the first half of the marathon route, before recovering for the rest of the day. Should my heart still be beating this fast?

Monday After the glamorous trips of the previous week, it is good to have time at my desk and I spend most of the day working on a couple of spreadsheets. One to model a company that I saw last week and another on a holding in the transport sector. I never feel I fully understand a company until I have developed my own forecasts on it – and if you do not understand it you should not invest in it. I decide to buy some shares in the company I met the previous Wednesday.

Tuesday It is an exciting time at the moment as the gyrations in the market are putting some companies on low valuations we have not seen for some time. They look like attractive investments, but we need to assess the impact on their profits of tougher economic conditions.

Wednesday I spend most of the day in the City office. There is a trading statement out from Taylor Wimpey so we get another insight into how the British house builders are doing. At a lunch in the City I meet the sustainable development manager of Michelin.

What makes the job of fund managers so interesting is the range of companies they meet and how many industries they learn about. Today I learn about how more efficient tyres can make a contribution to lower CO2 emissions. Apparently, low rolling resistance tyres are as safe as normal tyres. I had assumed that low resistance meant no grip and the driver would end up in a hedge on the first corner.

A good week. Plenty of time spent just getting on with meeting companies and researching investment ideas. Zero time spent in internal meetings eating biscuits and discussing the global investment process. Now, as fund manager on our UK Equity fund, how do I wangle a trip to our Rio office?

  • Jonathan Fieldsend is a fund manager at EEA Fund Management. His diary runs from January 10-16, 2008.