MoneyWeek's top ten tipsters of 2009

Throughout the year, nearly 50 fund managers and investment experts have given us their tips. So how well have their choices performed? Here we list the top ten share tipsters of 2009.

2008 was dreadful for most investors; 2009 has been a lot more forgiving. The huge rally we've seen since March saw almost every asset class post decent gains this year. Unsurprisingly, this was reflected in the performance of the nearly 50 fund managers and investment experts who kindly gave us their tips throughout the year. By following the advice of our top three, you could have pretty much doubled your money last year you'd have been lucky to stay flat. Before reading on, be aware that this is in no way a scientific or fair exercise. Most of the tips were intended for long-term investors, but our performance data reflects progress after less than a year. And the views were given at different points in the year some in January, others just weeks ago. And we don't include dividend payments. With that in mind, here, in percentage terms, is our top ten.

1. Sam Mahtani

F&C +105.6%

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In January, Sam Mahtani tipped insurer China Life Insurance due to its "strong brand name and distribution network". It's up 104% since then, but he still rates it a buy for 2010. He'd also keep buying into India's largest bank, State Bank of India (up 130%). "Business growth remains strong" and the company has "robust diversification via their presence in asset management, investment banking and primary dealership". He would hold on to Chinese-based oil and gas company CNOOC Ltd, up 83% since he tipped it. He believes that the 2010 p/e of 12 represents fair value. "Nevertheless, this is still a good long-term story."

2. Philip Ehrmann

Jupiter +103.27%


Of the three stocks Philip Ehrmann tipped in February, he still rates China South Locomotive (up 48%) and China Everbright (up 150%) as buys, because "train-related orders and new business opportunities in the environmental waste area abound". Medical devices group Shandong Weigao, however, is now "a little pricey", having risen 111% on the back of healthcare reforms. He now rates it a hold. A better buy is CC Land (HK: 1224). This established property developer operates mainly in the Chongqing and Chengdu areas of western China. It is benefiting from urbanisation and from "directed government policy to rebalance economic growth in favour of the western provinces".

3. Mark Asquith

Somerset Capital +90.77%


"The next 50 years will be driven by the under-leveraged emerging-market consumer," reckons Mark Asquith. This was reflected in his tips for 2009. He still likes Brazilian food retailer CBD for the long term. But with a gain of 175% since he tipped it in March, the stock now trades on a p/e of more than 30, so "take profits" for now. He'd stick with Turkish mobile-phone group Turkcell (up 45%) and Chinese online games firm Shanda (up 53%). Both are "still reasonably valued and in novelty-starved economies". He believes 2010 will bring a rerating of "the more underappreciated regions and sectors. This includes Western economies, technology and telecoms". In emerging markets, the ratio of middle-aged to young people looks "particularly positive for Turkey and Mexico" (a rising proportion of middle-aged people, who tend to save more, is good for markets).

4. Simon Webber

Schroders +64.5%


Simon Webber tipped six climate-change-related stocks in May. Car and battery-maker BYD rose 273% and now looks "very expensive", so it's a sell. Wind-turbine-maker Gamesa is down 11%, having been "held back by a lack of financing for infrastructure projects". But "this is now improving and the stock remains one of our largest positions". He'd also hold agricultural machinery group AGCO (up 34%). With nuclear power all the rage, he still likes uranium miners. But he'd switch from Energy Resources of Australia (up 12%) to fellow miner Paladin Energy. He still holds insurer Munich Re (up 6.8%) as a solid defensive play, "but while the market is in cyclical recovery mode the shares are unlikely to perform too well". Video-conferencing-equipment-maker Tandberg (up 73%) is being bought by Cisco, so for 2010 he'd switch into Polycom, the only remaining publicly-listed, independent, video-conferencing company.

5. Alex Illingworth

SWIP (formerly at Insight Investment) +33.5%


Alex Illingworth "focused on quality" when he tipped three stocks for us in June. It paid off. US rail operator Norfolk Southern is up 36%; brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev gained 44%; and distributor WW Grainger rose 20%. He'd hold them all. For 2010, he's tipping a stock "that carries greater risk and reward": Virgin Media (Nasdaq: VMED). "The risk here primarily comes from the large debt load. The opportunity is that Virgin has at least a three-year lead with the best technology just when the analogue signal is being discontinued. Evidence is growing that customers demand, and are prepared to pay for, higher broadband speeds. In addition, the demise of Setanta reduces competition and leaves the regulator requiring Virgin to be a strong counter to Sky's dominance."

6. Derek Stuart

Artemis +28.5%


Derek Stuart tipped five stocks in January. He'd still hold Unilever (up 14%), which "should have further to go". He's still a buyer of oil services firm Wood Group (up 44%) and also still likes merchant bank Close Brothers (up 52%), as it's "a very sound and conservatively run business, and one with improving quality of earnings". Lloyds' insurer Omega Insurance is down 25% since he tipped it, but it's "still cheap and should deliver in 2010". But he'd sell steel product manufacturer Delta, which is "fully valued" after rising 57%. For 2010 he likes oil and gas group Sterling Energy (LSE: SEY). After its recent recapitalisation, "management should be able to make the most of its interests in Kurdistan and Cameroon".

7. Andrea Williams

RLAM +28.1%


Of the eight stocks Andrea Williams tipped in February, French bank BNP Paribas was the top performer, up 109%. She still rates it a buy: "it is cheap, with a dividend yield above the market" and has access to a "massive deposit base" following its purchase of Fortis in Belgium. She'd also stick with Swiss bank Credit Suisse (up 84%), which is well positioned in "the growing areas of investment banking and wealth management". Among the retail stocks she tipped, she has sold H&M (up 26%) after recent sales disappointed. But supermarket group Royal Ahold (up 2.4%) is still a buy. She's also holding onto Novo Nordisk (up 7%), as she reckons the drug sector will do well next year. Defence electronics groups Thales (up 0.7%) and Finmeccanica (down 6.4%) are also still buys, with "big scope for internal restructuring", but she has sold out of Indra (up 1.5%). This year, she's adding Irish builder CRH (LSE: CRH) for its exposure to infrastructure investment in America. She also likes insurer Axa (Euronext: CS). It's working on a deal in Australia that will give it access "to the fast-growing Far East".

8. Tom Walker

Martin Currie +28.1%


Tom Walker remains "a firm believer" in all three of the stocks he recommended in April. He still rates Google (up 68%) a buy, as it "continues relentlessly to tighten its grip on the global online advertising market". Seed and herbicide producer Monsanto (down 3%) is a hold. Its "management team has consistently pointed to 2010/2011 as a 'banner' year for the introduction of key new products that should drive sales for years". Natural gas producer Ultra Petroleum (up 19%) is also a hold. Oil giant Exxon's recent $41bn acquisition of XTO Energy suggests it could be an attractive bid target for 2010.

For 2010, Walker likes Gildan Activewear (NYSE: GIL). This Canadian company makes and markets basic clothing, such as T-shirts, sweatshirts and underwear. Its headquarters are in Montreal, but its main operational base is Honduras. "That counted against it this year, as investors responded to a Honduran military coup by dumping their holdings," he says. But this is "a buying opportunity. Gildan's most recent set of results was excellent. With the political situation in Honduras beginning to settle down, Gildan's share price is once again starting to reflect its very strong fundamentals. We believe the re-rating of Gildan will have much further to run in 2010."

9. Sebastian Radcliffe

Jupiter +27%


In June, Sebastian Radcliffe tipped three stocks, all of which have made solid gains since then. He'd stick with all three. Microsoft (up 33%) should do well as companies upgrade PCs over the next few years, and Windows 7 has got off to a "strong start". The company also "has over $40bn in net cash with which they are buying back shares". ConocoPhillips (up 27%), meanwhile, "is the 'super-major' with by far the lowest valuation in the US". And waste management firm Republic Services (up 24%) should see earnings improve, due to both a pick-up in the economy and the fact that it has paid down its higher-cost debt. For 2010 he likes ACE (NYSE: ACE). ACE is "one of the largest and best-run global insurers that have consistently made an underwriting profit (most actually don't)". Its shares have lagged the rally as investors pile into "higher-risk areas, such as the banks". That's left them valued at "close to an all-time low on a price-to-book value basis that should limit any downside. Should expectations for pricing or interest rates improve, the shares could perform very well".

10. Mark Niznik

Artemis +26.4%


Chemring was the best performer of the three stocks tipped by Mark Niznik in August. It's up 38% since then. He rates it a hold now. It's "undeniably a world-class company", but possible cuts to the UK defence budget as public finances deteriorate would hit it hard "hence my caution". But he's still a buyer of business process outsourcing group Xchanging (up 10%). Its latest trading statement was "disappointing", he says, but "the trend towards outsourcing is strong and growing" and Xchanging should benefit. Infrastructure group Babcock (up 31%) is also still a buy, as "most of its revenues come from maintaining Britain's fleet of nuclear submarines", whose future seems assured "for the foreseeable future at least". For 2010, he likes pawnbroker H&T (LSE:HAT). It's still cheap, even though "it's in a growing market as tough times take their toll". The group is well managed and it's "winning market share too".