Fund managers diary

Gill Leates is the manager of the CF JM Finn Smaller Companies fund. Her diary runs from February 24 to March 1.

Friday: Managing a smaller companies fund demands that I meet and maintain contact with the management of the companies I am interested in – either as a holder or potential investor.

Today my first meeting is with Lancashire Group, an insurance company, which gives me a clear assessment of the global industry. Despite last year being full of disasters, including the Japanese nuclear catastrophe, there remain strong opportunities for the group.

Later I meet managers from Iomart, a data storage provider specialising in the “cloud”, a fast-growing part of that market. I leave London early to travel to the country for the weekend with my family.

Saturday and Sunday: Glorious weather, so I go for a six-mile walk with my black labrador. Signs of spring all around. Bliss! Another long walk on Sunday to soak up the February sunshine. Stunning landscape. It feels great to be alive. (Diary continues below)

Monday: Meeting with New Britain Palm Oil, a producer in Papua New Guinea with over 103,000 hectares under cultivation. Results for 2011 were a record in both revenue and earnings. The company enjoys unique vertical integration – from seed to refined product. Demand for palm oil as the cheapest vegetable oil foodstuff is high and is aligned to the urbanisation of emerging economies.

Tuesday: Attend an internal Asset Allocation Committee meeting, where we hear from a visiting economist. Despite sovereign debt difficulties in Europe and America, we conclude that the corporate sector is in relative good financial shape and that the outlook for the market is reasonable for the next few months. This view is based on the improvement in America and the likelihood that China will engineer a soft landing as it eases the financial constraints it imposed a few months ago.

Later, a meeting with an American uranium company in which I learn how the outlook for that commodity has improved over recent months. More nuclear plants are in the pipeline in India, China and North America because nuclear electricity generation will be a necessary part of the total solution to the rapid growth in global demand for power.

Wednesday: A very interesting Brazilian property company is developing homes and hotels along parts of Brazil’s coast. Apartments will be sold mainly to Brazilians, who have benefited from the boom in commodities that has driven that economy’s growth.

Later I meet Rotork, which has produced yet another fantastic set of results. This is a top quality engineer that has forged markets across the world in the oil and gas, power generation and water industries for its fluid and gear systems. Its order book and outlook appear very strong.

Another meeting, this time with current holding Kier, a construction and service company working for both the public and private sectors. It has a strong order book in many projects, including Crossrail, work on which is disrupting several roads close to my office.

Thursday: I am late in at the office because I had to let in the engineer who is replacing my boiler. It’s always a disruptive nightmare having work done on one’s house. Never mind, the end result will hopefully make it all worth it. So mid-morning sees me rushing in for three more company meetings. Roll on the weekend. Let’s hope the weather is kind again.