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The Sunday Times: Market Mover: Richard Dunn

The Sunday Times: Market Mover: Richard Dunn

“As the Shell scandal proves, there are reserve issues with some of the major oil companies”

July 18, 2004

RICHARD DUNN is head of equity strategy at Montgomery Oppenheim, the IFSC-based fund manager. The New Yorker came to Ireland to take a master’s in business administration at Trinity College Dublin in the late 1980s. He moved to London for six years and returned to Ireland in 1995.

A certified accountant, Dunn was head of international equities at Irish Life Investment Managers for five years. He joined Montgomery Oppenheim last October. The company has €1.6 billion in total assets under management, of which €140m is invested in its managed funds.

Investment philosophy

“We adopt a global sector approach, which allows us to exploit global sector themes,” says Dunn. “Equity bull markets are driven by one or two sectors and this approach allows us to maximise benefit from a sector breakout.”

Performance

Montgomery Oppenheim is Ireland’s top- performing pooled pension fund manager over the past 10 years. Its managed fund has produced an average annual return of 12.6% a year over this period versus an average return among fund managers of 9.8%.

It is also the No 1 performer on a five-year basis, achieving a return of 5.4% against an average of 1.1%. Over the past 12 months, Montgomery Oppenheim’s managed funds have grown in value by 14.2%, slightly less than the average return of 14.6%.

Buying and selling

“At the moment we like energy and non- pharmaceutical healthcare,” says Dunn. “These are companies involved in distribution, health insurance and medical devices.

“Our view on energy is that oil prices are likely to stay at quite a high level (more than $30) for the next year at least. As the Shell scandal proves, there are reserve issues with some of the major oil companies.

“Our focus is on upstream companies like Saipem, an oil field services group focused around the Mediterranean and the Middle East region, that makes oil platforms.”

“On healthcare, our favourite company is Essilor, a world leader in eye glasses. It’s been growing rapidly in China and India and showing good margin expansion.

On the sell side, the fund manager has “concerns” over the technology sector. It also recently sold AstraZenica on concerns about one of its main drugs, Crestor. “Its valuation was also getting a bit stretched.”

In terms of regions, Montgomery Oppenheim favours Japan and Europe. “Japan offers the best value in global equities at the moment, its economy appears to be undergoing a sustainable recovery.” Dunn believes Europe offers better value relative to the US. “We see signs of economic growth coming through on the continent, particularly in France. Also, interest rates there will not go up as quickly as in the US or UK.”

Outlook

“We would be cautiously optimistic on equities,” he says. “We see very strong earnings growth particularly from US companies. But higher interest rates are expected to kick in and the higher oil price will make an impact. And there’s the uncertainty of the US presidential election.”

Ciaran Hancock

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