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The ‘disruption ready’ sectors investors should avoid

French fund manager Gérard Moulin names sectors he expects to be challenged by new entrants exploiting technological change.

The ‘disruption ready’ sectors investors should avoid

Equity investors should steer clear of hospitality, advertising, agriculture and industrials if they want to insulate their funds from major disruption.

That is the view of Citywire AA-rated Gérard Moulin, who runs the French Amplegest Pricing Power fund.

In an investment update, Moulin said he is focusing on sectors with clear market leaders and avoiding areas where the barriers to entry are not clearly defined.

‘We concentrate our assets on companies dominating their sector. That is those with exceptional positions rather than those with a good or strong potential for excess, which have a 50% chance of leading the pack,’ he said.

‘If you look at hospitality, advertising, agriculture and agri-food and industrials – the leaders are threatened. In hotels, many have posted strong results, so why should buyers beware? New actors are creating a hugely disruptive scenario.

‘In recent years there has been a slowdown in revenue-per-room growth, which is steadily declining. Eventually, even the major brands will have to face up to the impact of seasonal renters, such as Homeways, Airbnb and Trip Advisor, which are now extending their respective reaches.’

Looking at the French stock market, Moulin said large-scale agriculture firms are now feeling the pinch in terms of research and development costs falling, while Publicis (PUBP.PA) in advertising has failed to maintain its barriers to entry.

‘It failed to change its state of mind in the digital age despite displaying good intentions,’ he said. ‘The value means the stock no longer fits our "pricing power" remit because the group’s growth is not likely to resume.’

In industrials, Moulin named Air Liquide (AIRP.PA) and Veolia (VIE.PA) as stocks which have reached market saturation and are now dependent on inflation to boost further growth. This has curtailed pricing power and opened to the door for an insurgent with inflation-agnostic growth to prosper.

The Amplegest Pricing Power fund returned 35% in euro terms over the three years to the end of May 2017. This compares to a 24% rise by its Citywire-assigned benchmark, the FTSE World Europe TR EUR, over the same period.

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by David Campbell, Selin Bucak on Apr 23, 2018 at 05:00

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