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Henderson's Crooke: what i'm looking for from Apple, BP and the banks

Alex Crooke, manager of Bankers Investment Trust, is reviewing Apple heavily but is happy with the progress being made at BP and HSBC.

Shares in the technology giant plunged 10% after sales of iPhones fell short of investors' expectations.

Although it has been one of Crooke's best performing stocks over five years, the manager said Apple's latest set of numbers had to be combed through carefully.

'The figures for the first quarter need to be looked at closely; we are reviewing that stock quite heavily.  Clearly, they have some great products that are still selling well, but they are not meeting the very high expectations,' Crooke said, adding that for Apple to push ahead it will need to take a bite out of the business market and get costs down.

Elsewhere, BP and HSBC also hold dominant positions within £567 million Bankers, and together account for just over 4% of the portfolio's assets.

Crooke said BP has been able to 'clear the decks' by firming up its presence in Russia, and HSBC has 'carried on its good work' by ridding its balance sheet of unwanted US assets.

Backing up these views, HSBC's shares are trading towards the top of their 52-week range, despite its record £1.2 billion fine for anti-money laundering failings.

But this may not be enough to tempt Crooke to add to his holdings in financials.  Even though he admits 'there's value in Europe', with banks on sale at around half price to book versus their 1.3 times price tag in the US, growth remains a concern.

He said: 'i think the key with all these names, particularly in the European space, is that they are not expensive.  Key is where the growth is coming from.  As an investor, I want them to grow; the regulators want them to hold more capital, and it's that dynamic that [matters].  When you can see that pass over, begin to grow again, you may start to see dividends.'

Currently, Crooke's Bankers, which recently reduced its fees, is trading at a 3.9% discount, far narrower than the typical 8.3% discount among his global growth peers.

Over three years to December he has steered the trust to a 56.9% gain in its share price, and grown its net asset value per share by 39%, outstripping the FTSE World's 37% rise.

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