The French economy has come under increased scrutiny over the past three years as the market moved from a core economy to one producing as much concern as the so-called periphery.
In the eyes of some fund managers, President Francois Hollande has failed to move the country onto a firm recovery course during his three-year tenure.
Investors such as Alexis Renault, head of high yield at Meriten Investments, said the country had failed to make the same essential steps the likes of Ireland and Spain had embarked on.
But is it all doom and gloom? Citywire Global has cast an eye over the 118 dedicated French equity funds boasting a track record back as far as February 2012 to see how they have fared.
Of this group, the average total return for the 36-month period is 50.2%, which is above the most-commonly held index return, the CAC 40 CR, which rose 43.4% in euro terms.
However, there are a handful of managers who have gone above and beyond both these figures and can attest to three-year performance numbers which would certainly put a spring in the step of those otherwise fearful for France.
Let’s take a closer look at the fund management trio which has achieved the greatest total return over this analysis period.
Romain Burnand, Thomas Perrotin, Andrzej Kawalec, Moneta
Fund: Moneta Multi Cap C
Three-year total return (February 2012-February 2015): 87.1%
Of the 75 funds to have outperformed the average manager over this timeframe, the Paris-based Citywire AAA-rated trio of Romain Burnand, Thomas Perrotin and Andrzej Kawalec have done so by the biggest margin.
The trio, who have worked together on the France-domiciled fund since its launch in 2006, have steered their €2.2 billion approach to the top of the leader board with a broad all-cap investment style. The fund currently has 47% exposure to large-cap names, 42% in mid-caps and 11% in smaller names.
The current top stock choices reflect a diverse array of French firms, from pharmaceutical giant Sanofi to mid-cap investment firm Bolloré and fund of funds investment firm Altamir, which is a smaller company.
In addition, Kawalec, Burnand and Perrotin have made use of the ability to add some off-benchmark, international holdings and have done so through Italian energy group Enel Green Power and financials group Beni Stabili.
According to fund documents, the bias towards small-cap names has reduced sharply since 2011but remains a strong source of outperformance. Meanwhile, on a sector basis, the trio has stuck closely to industrials, holding nearly double the index weight, while also having strong overweights in utilities and real estate.
Top five funds in total return terms (February 2012-February 2015)
|Fund||Manager(s)||Total returns over analysis period|
|Moneta Multi Caps C||Romain Burnand/Thomas Perrotin/Andrzej Kawalec||87.1%|
|Gallica C||Igor de Maack||82%|
|R Convictions France D||Philippe Chaumel/Didier Bouvignies||79.3%|
|Claresco Avenir||Alain du Brusle||76.2%|
|MostDiversifPtf Sicav Tobam AB FR Eq Fd A||Team managed