Jupiter's £1.2bn European unit trust has had an easier ride than many of its peers during the recent market volatility: it's gone up by 1% over the last three months even as the FTSE 100 index has fallen by 5.6%. However, take a look at Alex Darwell's portfolio and you will see why: it is dominated by old-fashioned and deeply defensive stocks.
The fund's third biggest holding, Neopost, is in the unfashionable postal franking business, for example. "During the days of the internet bubble, the market thought that traditional mail companies were finished," Darwell tells the FT. But franking remains an essential tool for many and Neopost has made him ten times his money in total returns since he bought its shares a decade ago. Darwell's preference for solid if slightly peculiar-seeming businesses is reflected in his other major holdings: Geophysique Veritas is a French provider of seismic data and Novo Nordisk, which accounts for 8.3% of this portfolio, is a Danish diabetes medical-devices specialist. "The kind of businesses I look for have a unique product, but offer strong growth prospects," says Darwell.
Once he's discovered a stock that suits his taste, Darwell tends to sit on it for some time. The fund has a low turnover rate, with his top ten holdings making up more than 60% of the fund. It's an approach that has seen his fund return 143% over the last five years, against a sector average 125%, and with luck it should see him through the worst of the market turmoil in the coming months.
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Jupiter European unit trust's top ten holdings
Name of holding, % of assets
Reed Elsevier, 7.5%
Geophysique Veritas, 7.0%
Euler Hermes, 4.4%
DNB Nor, 4.0%
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