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Number Cruncher

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Number Cruncher

‘Screaming buy’ techs lifted North Growth in rocky decade Add to ...

What are we looking for?

How U.S. equity funds have fared over the 10 years ended Nov. 30. This period includes the 2000-09 time frame dubbed the “lost decade,” during which the S&P 500 produced a negative return.

The screen

We looked at the eight best and worst performing U.S. equity funds for the decade ended Nov. 30. U.S. dollar, segregated and duplicate versions of funds were excluded.

What did we find?

North Growth U.S. Equity topped our list, beating the S&P 500 in Canadian dollar terms with an average annual return of 5 per cent versus a 5-per-cent loss for the index.

The fund, which is run by manager Rory North and his team at Vancouver-based North Growth Management Ltd., charges 1.2 per cent, a relatively low fee that has helped to boost the fund’s performance.

Stock picking matters too, of course. Mr. North looks for growth stocks trading at reasonable prices. The fund is now 50 per cent in technology stocks – ironically, the ones he shunned during the Internet bubble. “Everything we own today, and were stepping away from in 2000, is a screaming buy,” he said.

The fund was about 43 per cent in cash in 2001, Mr. North said. In 2002, he went bargain hunting among cheaper, smaller companies and among large-cap technology stocks such as Apple Inc.

He began buying Apple at a split-adjusted $14 (U.S.) a share, and the stock has been trading over $300 recently. More recently, Pier 1 Imports Inc. has been a winner. Shares in the specialty retailer have been changing hands recently for more than $10, a far cry from when Mr. North purchased them between 51 cents and 87 cents during the market cash in March, 2009.

Mr. North continues to be bullish on the U.S. market and particularly technology companies with strong balance sheets. “We are seeing the U.S. economy showing robust signs of acceleration,” he said. “Valuations are still below historical norms and earnings growth is strong.”

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