Robin Geffen: Active UK equity ‘free lunch’ has ended

Geffen Robin Neptune 2014

Neptune Investment Management chief executive Robin Geffen says UK equity managers have enjoyed a “free lunch” since the global financial crisis, but it is now over.

Since 2009, 116 out of 121 UK small and mid-cap fund managers have outperformed the index, Geffen says.

Allocation within UK equity funds has also increased from 30 per cent in 2011 to 40 per cent at the start of the year, according to Morningstar data.

“In our view this free lunch is now over. We’ve lived through a period of low interest rates, low inflation, strong sterling, high consumer and business confidence.”

But the fund manager says that period was an anomaly.

Geffen warns UK equity income funds have also been able to easily outperform, with the level of outperformance rising from 60 per cent in 2009 to almost 90 per cent last year.

However, he warns over the last year only seven UK equity income managers have outperformed the All Share – himself included. “There is nothing one off about this, this is going to be a feature going forward.”

Geffen says his UK equity income fund has a large cap bias with a lot of overseas exposure, including HSBC, British American Tobacco and CME.

However, he warns against bond proxies due to their performance being connected to low interest rates. He sold Reckitt Benckiser this year as its dividend was not growing in line with its share price.

“Quality growth is trading at a 45 per cent premium to the wider market. That is another free lunch that is over.”