4th Quarter 2011
The Fund performed strongly during the fourth quarter of 2011 in delivering positive returns and outpacing its MSCI EAFE & Emerging Markets Index benchmark. After an extremely weak and volatile third quarter, positive sentiment returned to global markets in October as hopes regarding a resolution to the Eurozone crisis increased. The Fund performed well thanks to notable performances by holdings in Russia and China. Moreover, overweight stakes in sectors linked to global growth themes—especially those exposed to domestic consumption within Emerging Markets—outperformed, with Energy in particular significantly contributing to the Fund's relative performance.
Volatility returned to the markets in November, however, as macroeconomic events primarily in the Eurozone and China once again dominated global news. Despite this, the Fund continued its strong performance with telecommunications stock China Mobile serving as one of the best performing holdings during the month.
The volatility continued in December, albeit in a more muted form, as the benchmark ended the month relatively flat. The Fund underperformed in December as the portfolio’s high exposure to Russia detracted from performance somewhat due to protests arising from the country’s disputed election.
Overall, we maintained our conviction in the portfolio’s positioning throughout this volatile period, focusing on both developed world companies with exposure to emerging market and global growth themes, as well as high-quality domestic emerging market stories. We made only one portfolio change during the period, selling a Russian metals producer in favor of a UK high street bank as we think the Financials sector has the potential for a short-term relief rally. Looking ahead, the Fund remains fully invested in what our research has identified as the highest quality sector leaders best able to benefit from underappreciated growth.
Robin Geffen, Fund Manager & CEO
Neptune Investment Management
As of December 31, 2011, China Mobile comprised 2.99% of the portfolio's assets.
Note: Investing in foreign markets involves the risk of social and political instability, market illiquidity, and currency volatility. Holdings in emerging markets entail the further risk of unstable legal systems, increased volatility, and even less liquidity.
Before investing, carefully consider the fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. Contact 800 992-8151 for a prospectus containing this and other information. Read it carefully. Aston Funds are distributed by BNY Mellon Distributors Inc.