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Manager Ratings Update: Woodford back at AAA

Invesco Perpetual has plenty to celebrate this month as three of its managers take their first Citywire AAA rating in a year.

Citywire's data, which assesses an individual fund manager's risk-adjusted performance, shows star manager Neil Woodford, who runs the giant £2 billion Invesco Perpetual Income (INVESCO PERPETUAL Income Inc) and £3.9 billion High Income (INVESCO PERPETUAL High Income Inc) funds, regain a AAA rating, up from AA last month.

While Woodford, who has been running large positions in the tobacco and utility sectors for some time whilst being cautious on banks, has delivered excellent long-term performance, he has also produced strong returns over shorter time periods. For instance, over the past year his High Income fund has delivered total returns of 25%, well ahead of both the market and the peer group.

Invesco Perpetual also saw its bond duo Paul Causer and Paul Read, who run a range of the group's fixed interest funds including the Corporate Bond (INVESCO PERPETUAL Corporate Bond Acc) and Monthly Income Plus (INVESCO PERPETUAL Monthly Income Plus Inc) funds, progress to AAA from AA last month.

And small-cap manager Andy Crossley, who runs the Invesco Perpetual UK Smaller Companies Growth (INVESCO PERPETUAL UK Smaller Companies Growth) fund and who took on the group's Key Trends fund last summer, regains an A rating after a tough time in May which saw him lose his AA status. This takes the group's tally of rated managers to eight.

JPMorgan, which has an impressive 10 rated managers, just behind Jupiter with 11, also has reason to celebrate. Lee Manzi, who manages the group's Balanced (JPM Balanced A Inc) fund, and Mark Davids, manager of the UK Smaller Companies (JPM UK Smaller Companies A Acc) and UK Dynamic (JPM UK Dynamic Inc) funds, both attain the top AAA rating this month.

And Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, which has four rated managers, celebrates as High Income Bond (Scottish Widows High Income Bond A Inc) managers Joseph Portera and Matthew Philo, rise to the top AAA rating.

Elsewhere, a number of managers have jumped straight in at AAA. In the Europe excluding UK sector, Fidelity’s Tim McCarron gains the top rating, reflecting his excellent performance on Fidelity European, the fund he took over from star manager Anthony Bolton at the start of 2003.

And Barry Norris, formerly manager of Neptune European Opportunities (Neptune European Opportunities A) until he joined Britannic's high alpha boutique Argonaut in May, also jumps in with the top award.

However, a number of big name managers have seen their ratings deteriorate over the month.

Andrew Green, who runs the GAM UK Diversified (GAM UK Diversified Acc), GAM Global Diversified and St James's Place Recovery funds, is now at A, down from AA last month. Cazenove star Tim Russell, who employs a business cycle approach to his UK Growth & Income (Cazenove UK Growth & Income A Inc) fund, also slips to a single A.

And a number of managers who hunt for opportunities further down the market cap scale had a tough time. Simon Knott, value-oriented manager of the Discretionary (Discretionary Disc) fund, slips from AAA to AA, as does Ashton Bradbury, who runs only the Old Mutual UK Select Mid-Cap (Old Mutual UK Select Mid Cap Acc) fund after handing over his small-cap fund to Dan Nickols, who incidentally retains his AAA rating, at the start of last year.

Patrick Evershed, manager of the small-cap-oriented New Star Select Opportunities (New Star Select Opportunities) fund, also falls to AA. But Harry Nimmo, manager of Standard Life's UK Smaller Companies (Standard UK Small Companies Retail Acc) fund, gains his first rating, a single A.

Managers of high-octane funds also have a mixed time. Newton UK Opportunities’ (Newton UK Opportunities) John Wood slips to AA, while DWS UK Opportunities (DWS UK Opportunities Acc A) manager Phil Doel, who only gained a Citywire rating in May and who edged up to AAA last month, retreats back to AA.

However, Mark Lyttleton, manager of the Merrill Lynch UK Dynamic (Merrill Lynch UK Dynamic Inc) fund, accelerates the other way as he moves up to AAA. Gartmore UK Focus (Gartmore UK Focus Acc) duo Ashley Willing and Simon King rise to AA from A last month.

A total of 184 unit trust managers are now rated by Citywire, of which 50 now have the top AAA rating.

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