e-fundresearch: Mr Rasmussen, you are the fund manager of the Sparinvest Global Value fund (ISIN: LU0138501191). Since when have you been responsible for the management of this fund?
Rasmussen: Since 14-Dec-2001.
e-fundresearch: Which benchmark do you adhere to?
Rasmussen: We compare our performance with the MSCI World (EUR) but our investment policy is not constrained by what the index does.
e-fundresearch: Are you also responsible for other funds at the moment?
Rasmussen: Yes, I also manage the Sparinvest Ethical Global Value, Sparinvest European Value fund and the Denmark-based Value Aktier (which is Denmark’s largest single equity fund)
e-fundresearch: What is the total volume that you manage in all your funds?
Rasmussen: 2.5 bn. Euro.
e-fundresearch: Regarding performance: what has been the performance of the fund since the beginning of the year and in the years 2003-2008 (both in absolute terms and relative to the relevant benchmark)?
Rasmussen: Returns -30 Sept 2009
e-fundresearch: How content are you with your own performance in the last few years and this year?
Rasmussen: There’s no doubt that 2008 was a very disappointing year for us, especially when our goal is to produce positive returns. After a negative start to 2009, there was a shift in the market at the start of March, where stocks rebounded. The sectors that had been the “dogs” of the benchmarks from end 2007 until March 2009 (like cyclical and industrial stocks) started to perform and the value benchmark gained ground compared to the growth benchmark. So things are looking much better in 2009, and the overall valuation of our fund is at historic low levels that makes this a buying opportunity.
e-fundresearch: How are you able to deliver added value for your investors with your performance?
Rasmussen: With our long-term focus and strictly disciplined approach, we are convinced that we can produce long-term positive returns in 5 to 10 year period that will be attractive to investors.
e-fundresearch: For how long have you been a fund manager?
Rasmussen: I have worked with value investing for more than 12 years, and for eight of these as the lead portfolio manager. Before that I worked in a credit rating agency, where my job was to foresee bankruptcy in companies.
e-fundresearch: What have been your biggest successes and your biggest disappointments in your career as fund manager?
Rasmussen: My success criteria and focus is to produce attractive long term returns, and I think I have done OK on that account.
Besides some potential take-overs falling apart in the past, the year 2008 has to count as the biggest disappointment, meaning the magnitude of the problems that hit the whole financial system.
e-fundresearch: What kind of capital market situation do we have at the moment? How do you act in this environment?
Rasmussen: I think the worst is over, meaning that a meltdown of our financial system is not an issue any more. We still really need the financial markets to “stand on their feet again”, and the pickup in economic activity is still very fragile.
We are very busy screening the markets identifying new investment ideas, so it is ‘business as usual’ for us.
e-fundresearch: What are the special challenges in this environment?
Rasmussen: The best buying opportunities always come on the back of big downturns and uncertainty, but this is mentally not easy to grasp for most investors.
e-fundresearch: What objectives do you have till the end of the year and in the mid-term for the upcoming 3 to 5 years?
Rasmussen: Our goal is to produce a good long term average return, aiming at between 12-15 % in the coming 5-10 years range.
e-fundresearch: Do you model yourself on someone? Any idols?
Rasmussen: Among value investors, Benjamin Graham.
e-fundresearch: What motivates you in your job?
Rasmussen: Good team work, working with our investment process, and seeing this materialising in good results.
e-fundresearch: What else do you want to achieve or do you have any further aims as a fund manager?
Rasmussen: I always aim to work smarter and better, and to improve further as a value investor.
e-fundresearch: What other profession would you have taken interest in, apart from becoming a fund manager?
Rasmussen: I always dreamt of being a professional athlete, but lacked talent. Besides that I have always taken a big interest in economic history and geography.
e-fundresearch: Thank you for the interview!
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