ECONOMY

Mutual funds outperform investment firms, by far

Anxiety improves performance on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE). At least that is what we can infer from comparing the performance of mutual fund managers and portfolio investment firms. Mutual fund managers have to cope with the pressure of everyday assessment, since the performances of the mutual funds they manage are published each day. They must also live with constant comparisons with other mutual funds as well as the fear of unexpected outflows, if investors liquidate their shares. On the contrary, investment firms’ managers enjoy relative tranquility, since their performances are published twice a month and are not so widely commented upon. They also do not have the fear of sudden outflows and they have a far greater latitude to invest, in contrast with mutual fund managers who are subject to restrictions. In the performance comparison between the two, mutual funds win hands down. Indeed, at the end of June, and with the ASE general index up 8.21 percent on the year, and many other indices even higher, five investment firms show negative returns. Two of them, Domus and Aeoliki, are losing 19.97 percent and 6.85 percent of their net asset value this year, respectively. On the other hand, from January 1 to July 23, 28 of 68 mutual funds have outperformed the general index. If we also take into account that mutual funds are obliged to maintain higher liquidity to pay off those investors who choose to liquidate their shares, 36 of the 68 funds have outperformed the index. Fully half of those have double-digit returns (up to 14.24 percent). This strengthens the view of those who hold that mutual funds have done well precisely because of the additional restrictions placed on them. According to market sources, most of the mutual fund and investment firms managers did not believe that the market would rise so steeply, as it has done since April 1. According to them, the fact that mutual funds were obliged to invest at least 65 percent in equities helped them ride the bullish wave. Among investment firms, only one, Emporiki Investment, outperformed the ASE index during the first of the year. Its net asset value rose 8.84 percent during this period. The other investment company with a performance close to that of the index in the first half is Investment-Development Fund, which is about to be absorbed by EFG Eurobank Ergasias. Following are National Investment (7.39 percent), National Portfolio Investment (6.91 percent) and Alpha Investment, also to be absorbed, by Alpha Bank (6.03 percent). These are also the sector heavyweights. Other investment companies with relatively good returns are Piraeus Investment – to be absorbed by Portfolio Investment – (5.59 percent), Greek Progress Fund (5.01 percent), Exelixi (4.98 percent) and Arrow (4.02 percent). On the other hand, the negative returns of Domus and Aeoliki, along with those of Altius (2.22 percent), are truly shocking. In the case of Domus, the company is trapped by its management’s decision, last summer, to proceed with a share buyback at a 250 percent premium.