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Awards for investment excellence 2006: Standing apart
13 April 2006
By its very nature, contrarianism is always out
of fashion. Deliberately going against consensus opinion, contrarians buy the unloved and overlooked stocks that go on to become winners – an approach that requires patience, exhaustive research and nerve. Skagen Funds has risen quickly to become the biggest manager in the Norwegian market by ploughing this lonely furrow – but its impressive performance means that its brand of contrarian investing is now becoming popular with investors abroad.
Claire Milhench reports on this year's Firms to Watch.
Contrarians are used to being unloved. But in the last few
years Skagen Funds has enjoyed spectacular growth to become
Norway's biggest investment manager, with a 25% share of the
market. As Filip Weintraub, fund manager of Skagen Global, says
ruefully: "That wasn't our ambition when we started." Indeed,
when the firm was founded in 1993, Skagen's managers ran money
for themselves, family and friends. The three founders,
Kristoffer Stensrud, now investment director and manager of the
emerging markets-focused Kon-Tiki Fund, Åge
Westbø, and Tor Dagfinn Veen, still own large shares in
the company, although other portfolio managers have
subsequently taken stakes. Weintraub, a Swede who has been with
the firm for five years, says all his personal wealth is in the
company and its funds.
Skagen's contrarian approach may seem risky to the
uninitiated, but Weintraub says that from the outset the goal
was to deliver strong absolute returns,...
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