Fund gimmick: A fund that ‘swings’ between mid-caps and large-caps
April 29, 2010
When it comes to fancy ideas and pushy sales promotions, Indian mutual fund houses would definitely occupy pole position. Here is one such offering from HDFC Mutual Fund that is as strange as they come. Existing investors of HDFC MF are being enticed into a half-baked offering named HDFC Premier Multi-Cap Fund (PMC). It is an open-ended growth scheme, which aims to generate capital appreciation in the long term through equity investments by investing in a diversified portfolio of mid-caps and large-cap ‘blue chip’ companies.
It claims to have a ‘unique’ investing strategy, wherein it will invest a minimum of 35% of the scheme each in large caps and in mid caps. The balance of the scheme will be a ‘swing portfolio’ that can invest in either of the two. How will this operate? Depending on the fund manager’s perception as to which appears more attractive, the ‘swing’ part of the portfolio will be directed towards either large-caps or mid-caps.
The rationale behind this strategy is that mid-caps and large-caps do not always follow a uniform trend. Sometimes large-caps perform better while at other times mid-caps gain the edge. So, investments under these two categories would yield varying results at different times.
So, the fund house suggests that in order to maximise benefit from the movements of each category, one should dynamically manage their portfolio by switching into different categories of the market. For individual investors to do this on their own is not practical as it involves a lot of research, costs and taxes.
That’s where the HDFC Premier Multi-Cap Fund claims to offer a unique edge to investors. Instead of focussing on the movements of the broader indices—the Sensex and the Nifty—the Fund allows investors to play the movements of large-cap stocks and mid-cap stocks. There are several problems with this.
First, this scheme appears a lot similar to HDFC Equity Fund which invests primarily in large-caps but also provides exposure to mid-caps. It seems like an adapted version of HDFC MF’s most popular fund scheme. Second, how is swinging from one kind of stock to another anything other than market-timing —that the fund companies always frown upon?
Third, more importantly, though, this concept of having flexibility between allocation towards different sub-components is not a new practice. Fund managers are free to realign portfolio allocations as per their whims and fancies. That is why fund prospectuses are full of vague generalisations. As such, this approach of HDFC PMC Fund is not a ‘unique strategy’ after all. But then fund management is a business, which entirely depends on assets fund companies can gather by such apparently differentiated sales pitches. — Moneylife Digital Team