The current market environment is momentum driven, meaning the market movement may not reveal the actual growth scenario. The instability caused by virus outbreak has caused some investors to write-off few specific sectors and shun stocks in that particular sector. However, some of the quality stocks in such sectors, even though inappropriately priced in the short run, may have high long term growth potential.

Contra funds seek to find opportunities in such stocks that are currently out of favour but with potential to gain in the future. Such funds could be one of the major beneficiaries of the economic recovery.

The ongoing market crash has provided attractive opportunities for contrarian investors looking to boost profitability from equity mutual fund investment.

Invesco India Contra Fund (IICF) is one of the prominent players in the contra fund category which looks to identify such hidden opportunities and bet against the herd.

Graph 1: Growth of Rs 10,000 if invested in Invesco India Contra Fund 5 years ago

Graph 1

Data as on May 05, 2020
(Source: ACE MF, PersonalFN Research) 

IICF has performed reasonably well across market cycles. Its fund managers, Mr Taher Badshah and Mr Amit Ganatra, keep a strong focus on fundamentals and those stocks that are likely to show sharp earnings recovery. An investment of Rs 10,000 made in IICF, 5 years back, would have appreciated by about 7.1% CAGR to Rs 14,085. On the other hand, a similar investment in the benchmark S&P BSE 500 – TRI would have been valued at Rs 11,695 (3.2% CAGR). Notably, the fund came to the limelight due to its superior performance during the bull phase of 2016-17. In the current corrective phase, the fund has been ahead of the category average as well as its benchmark.

Table: Invesco India Contra Fund’s performance vis-a-vis category peers

Scheme Name 1 Year 3 Year 5 Year Beta Std Dev Sharpe Sortino
Kotak India EQ Contra Fund -18.15 2.25 5.05 1.00 16.82 -0.01 -0.02
Invesco India Contra Fund -14.69 2.18 7.09 1.02 18.11 0.00 -0.01
SBI Contra Fund -26.91 -7.24 -0.91 0.98 21.47 -0.42 -0.44
Category Average -19.92 -0.94 3.74 1.00 21.28 -0.16 -0.17
S&P BSE 500 – TRI -19.75 -1.42 3.18 1.00 19.69 -0.09 -0.11

Returns are point to point and in %, calculated using Direct Plan – Growth option. Those depicted over 1-Yr are compounded annualised.
Data as on May 05, 2020
(Source: ACE MF, PersonalFN Research)
*Please note, this table only represents the best performing funds based solely on past returns and is NOT a recommendation. Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks. Read all scheme related documents carefully. Past performance is not an indicator for future returns. The percentage returns shown are only for indicative purposes.

IICF has distinctly outperformed its benchmark S&P BSE 500 – TRI across time periods as well as the category average. IICF’s returns over the longer time frames of 3-year and 5-year have been remarkable, where it has generated an alpha of around 3.5-4 percentage points.

Kotak India EQ Contra Fund is the other top contender in the contra funds category.

Although IICF has shown higher volatility in performance, it has generated superior risk adjusted returns for its long-term investors. The fund’s Sharpe ratio of -0.02 and Sortino of -0.03 is far ahead of its benchmark.

Investment strategy of Invesco India Contra Fund

Being a contra fund, IICF is mandated to invest at least 65% of its assets in equity and equity related instruments following a contrarian investment strategy. Over the past one year IICF had an average allocation of 65% into largecaps. It also holds significant exposure to mid and small cap stocks which together account for around 30% of its holdings.

IICF looks to find hidden opportunities backed by research and expertise. It aims to select mispriced and out of favour stocks of fundamentally sound companies that have potential to grow in the long-term, and stay invested until its full potential is realized.

The fund follows the bottom-up approach to select companies trading below fundamental value, companies in turnaround phase and growth companies available at attractive valuations. It takes active overweight/underweight sector positions w.r.t. the benchmark, based on the top-down view and valuation opportunities.

Graph 2: Top portfolio holdings in Invesco India Contra Fund

Holding in (%) as on March 31, 2020
(Source: Portfolio disclosure – Invesco Mutual Fund)

IICF usually holds a well-diversified portfolio of 45-55 stocks at any point of time. As on March 31, 2020, IICF held a fairly diversified portfolio of 57 stocks, with the top 10 stock holdings accounting for close to 50% of its assets. Highly liquid names like Reliance Industries, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, and Infosys currently appear among its top holdings in the fund’s portfolio. Most of them have been among the core contenders in IICF’s portfolio for a long time.

In terms of sector concentration, the top five sectors in IICF’s portfolio accounted for around 50.6% of its assets. The fund held higher weightage to Banking (21.1%) followed by Infotech (12.8%), Petroleum Products (8.9%), Pharma (7.7%) and Auto (6.4%). Finance, Power, Consumption, Telecom and Auto ancillaries are among the other prominent sectors in the fund’s portfolio.


IICF has rewarded investors with consistent outperformance over the benchmark across time periods and market cycles. Its ability to generate superior risk-adjusted returns helps the fund outscore most other diversified equity funds. The fund has the ability to manage downside risk during extreme market conditions, while it can gear up and participate in market rallies. However, as the fund invests in out-of-favour stocks/sectors, it may temporarily underperform in the short term. This makes the fund suitable for investors with high risk appetite and a long term investment horizon.

Note:   This write up is for information purpose and does not constitute any kind of investment advice or a recommendation to Buy / Hold / Sell a fund. Returns mentioned herein are in no way a guarantee or promise of future returns. As an investor, you need to pick the right fund to meet your financial goals. If you are not sure about your risk appetite, do consult your investment consultant/advisor. Mutual Fund Investments are subject to market risks, read all scheme related documents carefully.

This article first appeared on PersonalFN here

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