Gartmore says Irish shares undervalued due to the crisis
FUND manager Gartmore said Irish shares appeared undervalued and offer a good investment opportunity, despite Ireland's economic problems.
"Many Irish equities look undervalued, with a number of companies quoted in Ireland being overlooked or disregarded by investors simply because of their Irish incorporation," the Gartmore Irish growth fund said yesterday as it reported half-year results.
Gartmore added that many leading Irish firms, such as Kerry, Glanbia, Paddy Power, Smurfit Kappa, Andor and Norkom did much of their business overseas and were therefore insulated to a certain extent from our domestic problems.
"In spite of the uncertainty, we are continuing to find plenty of quality investment opportunities in Ireland at very attractive valuations," said the fund manager that lost long-term investment guru Gervaise Williams in September.
Gartmore Irish, which is now led by Mr Williams's deputies Adam McConkey and Moni Sternbach, said economic data provided a mixed picture with falling GDP but rising exports and signs that unemployment was stabilising. Gartmore said net asset value (which measures the value of all shares owned by the fund) fell 4pc in sterling terms compared with an 18pc fall in the ISEQ Index.
The fund outperformed the ISEQ by avoiding the banks and CRH, which posted the worst one-month losses in its history last August following a profit warning.
Among the best performers for Gartmore was a holding in Andor Technology, which sells specialist digital cameras.
Another stock was Aer Lingus. "Capacity rationalisation has meant an increased load factor, and although revenues were down a little as expected, cost reductions resulted in an operating loss that represented a substantial improvement in operating earnings," the managers said.
The company said it pre- fers the airline to rival Ryanair.
Other positives included Origin Enterprises, Glanbia, Elan and Smurfit Kappa.
Gartmore took profits on Glanbia, cut exposure to Andor and bought United Drug, Merrion, Kerry and DCC.
The investment manager added that it reduced exposure to companies "where the investment thesis was driven by event risk", such as explorers Providence Resources and Minco.