Hugh Hendry has hit out at Hargreaves Lansdown for axing his Eclectica Agriculture fund from its Wealth 150 list, labelling the group's reasons for removing the fund as ‘mystifying'.
Hendry's Eclectica Agriculture fund was cut from the Hargreaves' recommended fund list last week, with the Bristol-based group citing "disappointing short-term performance" as the major factor behind the removal.
However, Hendry is calling for Hargreaves to publicly retract its statement, saying his fund has outperformed a number of agriculture vehicles over past year, including another similar fund in the Wealth 150 recommended list, Sarasin AgriSar.
"The excuses Hargreaves Lansdown gave were poor. We do not have disappointing short term performance," Hendry says.
"In fact, if you use the Financial Express data on the Hargreaves Lansdown website, the Eclectica Agriculture fund has outperformed the Sarasin AgriSar vehicle over three months, six months and one year to 15 October; and over these periods it has been one of the best performing agricultural funds in the UK."
Hendry also defended the group's holding of stocks like fertiliser companies, refuting Hargreaves' suggestions it needed to hold less volatile shares such as supermarkets.
"Why should you as an investor pay a specialist management fee for someone to buy Tesco and Sainsbury's," Hendry adds.
"For example, we are in areas such as palm oil plantations. Also, we were the few specialist agriculture funds in London to have a substantial holding in Potash going into August, and everyone knows what the share price has done following the BHP approach.
"Whatever the motives behind this may be, I do not believe our fund should be tarnished by misinformation in this way."
Hargreaves Lansdown investment analyst Meera Patel says the Sarasin fund is a different proposition to the Eclectica vehicle.
"We are keeping the Sarasin fund on the 150 because we feel it is has a broader exposure to the agriculture story," she says.
"Eclectica invests at the inputs end of the spectrum, which tends to be aligned to commodity prices. This fund has been more volatile than we expected.
"We are not telling clients to sell the fund at all, it has simply moved from a ‘buy' to ‘hold'. While performance over the last six weeks or so has been good, we are looking for more stability in the returns over a longer period."
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