In the blizzard of information available to modern investors, distilling what is useful poses a major challenge.
It is made particularly difficult by the fact that many of those who provide information to investors have a vested interest.
Fund managers, for instance, are rarely willing to talk down the sector in which they invest in any significant way. The more money sits in their funds, the more they and their employers earn from management fees.
Yesrox has looked back in the archive and uncovered some extreme instances where managers have been publicly positive about a type of asset that has then fallen heavily in value.
The consequent poor performance of the managers’ funds can generally not be blamed on their own actions: when everything in a sector falls there is next to no one who can turn a profit. However, the optimism of managers ahead of significant difficulties in their sector is jarring.
That is not to say that fund managers should always be ignored. They often offer valuable insight. But investors should be aware of their self-interest, apply a critical eye and seek independent research.
In March 2012, Evy Hambro, manager of the BlackRock Gold & General fund, then worth £3.4bn, told this newspaper that the rally in gold was “far from over”. The price was $1,700 an ounce at the time.
Similarly, in August 2011, Ani Markova, manager of the Smith & Williamson Global Gold & Resources fund, predicted in an interview with Reuters that the gold price would hit $2,000 within 12 months and $2,400-$3,000 within two to three years.
In fact, gold peaked at around $1,900 an ounce and then went into a sharp decline from mid-2012 to mid-2013. It continued to fall more gradually until the end of 2015, when the decline stopped at around $1,000.
One year after Mr Hambro’s prediction, BlackRock Gold & General had fallen by 24pc and Smith & Williamson’s fund by 29pc, according to FE, the fund analyst.
Three years on, the two funds were down by 51pc and 55pc, respectively. At present they are 29pc and 31pc lower than on March 1 2012, following a good run for gold over fears surrounding Brexit and the American presidential election.
Mr Hambro and Ms Markova are by no means bad managers who made wild predictions to attract attention. Their funds remain among the most highly regarded for investors who want exposure to gold and precious metals, and when the gold price has risen performance has been strong.
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In June 2015, the price of oil was around $65 a barrel, having recovered somewhat from its mammoth fall in 2014 from more than $100 a barrel to $40, according to Trading Economics, a data provider.
That month Richard Hulf, co‑manager of the Artemis Global Energy fund, presented his optimistic view on the oil price in a video on his firm’s website.
He said the absence of a cut to Opec’s oil production levels, which were keeping the oil price low by flooding the market with excess supplies, “has had the desired effect”.
Non-Opec producers were finding it difficult to extract oil profitably at the low price levels, he said, so their production was slowing down.
“Once supply starts to slow down, the gap between supply and demand starts to reduce and oil prices should start to recover,” Mr Hulf said. “That’s what we expect to see in the second half of this year. This is broadly a positive sign for the oil sector.”
In the months that followed the video’s publication the oil price began to fall again. Between June 2015 and the beginning of 2016 the price halved from more than $60 a barrel to less than $30.
From the date of the video to the end of 2015, Artemis Global Energy lost 28pc. Many other energy funds fell similarly.