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Why Jupiter's Nutt refused to throw in the towel
by Dylan Lobo on Mar 05, 2012 at 12:22
From a purely material perspective, Jupiter’s Anthony Nutt (pictured) could easily have decided to close the door on his fund management career.
When Jupiter Asset Management floated in 2010, Nutt’s stake in the firm was worth millions. The subsequent rise in the share price pushed the value of this stake to £66.5 million in 2011, resulting in Nutt entering the Sunday Times Rich List in 926th place.
The rise in his wealth came at a time when Nutt was going through one of his most difficult performance periods. In the six years to September 2008, his £2.1 billion Jupiter Income fund had returned 74.9% versus a 58.55% gain in the FTSE All Share, making it a top performer.
Then Lehmans collapsed and things got tough, with the fund losing nearly 31% from September 2008 to March 2009, around 5% more than the average loss in the peer group. The rebound in markets has helped Nutt post a positive return of 56.7% over the last three years, although this is some way below the 77.8% rise in the benchmark over the same period.
The underperformance saw investors turn on him, with Bestinvest among the most vocal of critics, putting the fund in its ‘Doghouse’.
However, Nutt’s character, which was shaped during a stint in the Ministry of Defence early in his career, would not allow him to walk from the job.
‘Many of my colleagues and friends have asked me why I’m still doing this job – it’s because I enjoy it. I don’t think I’ve lost my ability,’ Nutt says.
‘I do a job that has a good deal of responsibility and if you fall below people’s expectations, you can only expect them to criticise you. I’m not the sort of person who runs away from a problem, I have never done that in my life.’
It is well documented that a position in BP during the Macondo oil well crisis in 2010 provided a blow to performance. However, it is his exposure to the media sector, particularly Yell and Johnston Press, which real irks him.
‘The media stocks are something I have beaten myself up about. I bought Yell when it came to the market and it did fabulously well for me, rising fourfold. Then Lehmans collapsed and the market fell out of love with its private equity model,’ says Nutt, who has since sold down both stocks to a nominal size.
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