Saltydog Investor assesses the top funds and sectors after the first three months of the year.

In January, only 11 out of the 34 sectors that we regularly monitor made gains, but since then overall fund performance has improved. In February, that number increased to 24 and last month all the Investment Association (IA) sectors rose in value.

Over the first three months of the year, 28 sectors made gains.

The best-performing sector in January was Technology and Technology Innovation, which rose by 3.2%, followed by Japan, which ended the month up 2.8%. The worst-performing sector was China/Greater China with a 9.7% loss.

A month later and the China/Greater China sector had gained 9.5%, making it the leading sector in February. Next up was the Technology and Technology Innovation sector, up 5.7%, and then North America, up 5%.

Last month the top sector was Financials and Financial Innovations, up 3.7%, followed closely by the three European equity sectors (European Smaller Companies, Europe excluding UK, and Europe including UK).

By the end of the first quarter, the Technology and Technology Innovation sector was showing the largest three-month return, up 11%, followed by North America, which had made 10.8%.

When the Technology and Technology Innovation sector does well, we often find that certain funds from the North America and Global sectors also see an uplift, and that has certainly been the case this year.

If you look at the top 10 funds so far this year, then it is not surprising to see the Janus Henderson Global Technology Leaders fund at the top of the table. The Polar Capital Global Technology, Pictet-Digital and T. Rowe Price Global Technology Equity funds also feature. These funds are all from the Technology and Technology Innovation sector.

Saltydog’s top 10 funds in Q1 2024


Fund name Investment Association sector Monthly return January Monthly return February Monthly return March Quarter One return
Janus Henderson Global Technology Leaders Technology & Technology Innovation 7.9 4.7 5.4 19.0
WS Blue Whale Growth Global 5.5 8.1 3.8 18.3
Polar Capital Global Technology Technology & Technology Innovation 5.7 10.2 0.6 17.2
SVS Sanlam North American Equity North America 2.8 9.0 4.5 17.1
Invesco Global Focus Global 4.4 7.9 3.7 16.8
Artemis Global Income Global Equity Income 1.9 5.6 7.6 15.8
Janus Henderson Japan Opps Japan 3.6 6.8 4.4 15.6
Pictet-Digital Technology & Technology Innovation 5.3 6.6 2.9 15.6
Janus Henderson Global Select Global 3.1 5.4 6.3 15.5
T. Rowe Price Global Technology Equity Technology & Technology Innovation 5.0 6.2 3.5 15.4


Data source: Morningstar. Past performance is not a guide to future performance.

In second place is WS Blue Whale Growth fund from the Global sector. However, if you have a look at its top 10 holdings, then at the top of the list is NVDA – 0.21%, followed by MSFT – 0.50%, then LRCX – 1.01% technology – all US technology companies.

The same is true for the SVS Sanlam North American Equity fund in fourth place, which has significant exposure to Microsoft, Nvidia, AMZN – 0.24% – and GOOGL – 1.43%

The recent growth in interest in artificial intelligence (AI) has driven up the price of a handful of large technology stocks and any funds investing in them, regardless of which sector they are in, will have reaped the rewards. We have seen the benefits in our demonstration portfolios. Not only in funds such as Pictet Digital and UBS US Growth but, to a lesser extent, in the Liontrust Balanced fund, from the Mixed Investment 40-85% shares sector. It has nearly 20% of its assets invested in technology companies including Alphabet, TSM – 2.73%, Nvidea, and Microsoft. We invested in it last June and since then it has gone up by 13%.
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