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The top Asia ex-Japan funds of Q1

FSA highlights the best performing Asia ex-Japan funds in the first three months of 2024.
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Equity funds from Dragon Capital, Morgan Stanley and Fullerton were among the top performing Asia ex-Japan strategies in the first quarter of 2024, according to data compiled from FE fundinfo.

The MSCI Asia ex-Japan index ended the first quarter up 2.42% after initially declining in January.

The next two quarters saw the wider index make up its losses with a rally driven largely by Chinese equities, and to a lesser extent Korean equities in anticipation of a Japanese style “value-up” reform.

However, there were a handful of Asia ex-Japan strategies available for distribution in Hong Kong and Singapore which delivered returns well in excess of the regional benchmark index.

Below are the top 20 performing Asia ex-Japan equity funds for the first three months of the year, based on data from FE fundinfo*.

FundQ1 Return (%)
Dragon Vietnam Equity UCITS14.26
Lemanik KIM Vietnam Growth11.79
MS INVF Saudi Equity10.69
Fullerton Asia Absolute Alpha9.44
BEA BEA Union Investment Asia Strategic Growth Fund9.35
E.I.Sturdza Strategic Vietnam Prosperity8.98
Baillie Gifford Worldwide Asia Ex Japan8.93
CIM Dividend Income8.79
Fullerton VPICA8.73
UOB United Asian Growth Opportunities8.06
UOB United Asia7.98
Premia MSCI Vietnam ETF7.82
UOB United China India Dynamic Growth7.36
Maybank All-Weather Quantitative7.15
AB Asia Ex Japan Equity Portfolio7.02
Matthews Asia Innovative Growth6.97
H&A DB PWM II GIS Asia ex Japan Portfolio6.84
JOHCM Asia ex Japan TR6.56
Ashmore Investment Management (Ireland) Ltd Middle East Equity6.38
iShares MSCI Philippines ETF6.27

The top two performing strategies were Vietnamese equity funds, Dragon Vietnam Equity (up 14.26%) and Lamnik KIM Vietnam Growth (up 11.79%).

The FTSE Vietnam index more than doubled the wider Asia ex-Japan index over the course of Q1, up 6.51% versus 2.42% in US dollar terms.

The Dragon Vietnam Equity fund for example, managed by Quynh Le and Mai Vu, focuses on investments in companies in key sectors contributing to Vietnam’s economic growth.

The third top performer in the list above was the Morgan Stanley INVF Saudi Equity fund, which tracks the S&P Saudi Arabia index.

Managed by Najmul Hasnain, Alowi AliMirah and Khurram Javed, this fund returned 10.69% in the first quarter.

Over a third of the strategy is invested financials, although that is still less than the benchmark index weighting of 45%.

Another notable top performing strategy was the Fullterton Asia Absolute Alpha fund, which was up 9.44% over the quarter.

Despite focusing primary on Asian-listed stocks, it also has the freedom to invest in companies that derive a portion of their revenue from the Asia Pacific region.

As such, it has benefitted from large positioning in American semiconductor firms Nvidia and Broadcom, as well as Meta Platforms – owner and operator of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

Elsewhere in the list was the Baillie Gifford Worldwide Asia ex Japan fund, which was up 8.93% during the first quarter.

Run by Roderick Snell and Ben Durrant, this strategy focuses on buying quality growth companies with a long-term time horizon. 

As such, it has a relatively low annual turnover rate of 22%, and despite having over 60 stocks, its largest holdings account for meaningful position sizes.

For example, Samsung Electronics and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company account for 9.5% and 8.8% of its portfolio respectively.

*The performance figures are based in US dollars. The data only includes funds that fall under the relevant Singapore Mutual or Hong Kong Mutual equity sectors according to FE fundinfo.

Part of the Mark Allen Group.