Equity fund managers shuffle top picks in first half of 2017

India's equity fund managers have actively shuffled their portfolios in the first half of 2017, amid a gush of robust inflows from domestic investors. With benchmark indices seeing a steep climb, investment managers have strived to generate market-beating performance.

Reliance Industries and Axis Bank, among the 10 most-owned stocks by equity fund managers at the end of 2016, have dropped off the list, replaced by Kotak Mahindra Bank and HDFC.

While the rest of the top 10 stocks has remained the same, the pecking order has undergone a change.

At the start of the year, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Infosys, State Bank of India (SBI) and Larsen & Toubro (L&T) were the top five holdings, respectively, of equity MFs. At the end of June, Infosys was relegated to fifth slot, while SBI and L&T moved up one notch each. Among the top 10, Maruti Suzuki and ITC also traded places, with the FMCG giant going one up over the carmaker.

According to equity heads in the sector, it has been a stock-pickers’ market to generate benchmark-beating returns. But, they admit since these stocks make up the core of the equity asset management, too much juggling is always avoided unless there is a very strong investment call on some other stock.

Meanwhile, three sector giants — Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Bharti Airtel and Power Grid Corporation of India were ousted from the top 20 most-owned stocks in June. In their place, fund managers brought in Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Federal Bank and Tata Steel.

As of June 30, the top 10 most-owned stocks made up nearly Rs 1.44 lakh crore of equity assets. At the start of 2017, these stocks accounted for Rs 1.06 lakh crore. HDFC Bank continued to be the most-owned stock with fund managers pouring in Rs 29,600 crore, followed by ICICI Bank (Rs 21,340 crore).

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