Britain’s Version of Peter Lynch Cautious on World Markets

I’ve followed Fidelity’s Anthony Bolton’s career for many years. I’d say he’s the closest thing to America’s Peter Lynch, the famous manager of the Fidelity Magellan Fund, earning 29% per annum during his 13-year tenure. Unlike Lynch, however, Bolton is a global investor and doesn’t like what he sees in world markets at the moment.

The former manager of the British based Fidelity Special Situations Fund, a value-contrarian fund, remains cautious on global markets, especially banking shares and the mining sector.

Bolton is a man worth heeding. He retired from active fund management last year after earning an impressive 19.5% per annum compared to 13.5% annualized for the London FTSE Index from 1979 to 2006. That’s a great rate of return by any measure.

Over the last three decades, Bolton has made big directional calls on global markets, including a warning last spring about the private equity “bubble” and the impending stock market decline that ensued just months later.

Bolton, recently interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, warned that mining stocks are overheating and poised for a serious decline. He’s also concerned that although some financial stocks offer good value at these low levels, the sector might be priming investors for a bear market reversal. Since the market low in mid-March, bank shares have gained about 12%.

According to Bolton, European banking stocks are still vulnerable to more write-downs. “The $75 billion dollars of new shares issued by banks in Europe to rebuild their balance sheets could cause indigestion in the market.” Bolton is predicting financial shares might hit new lows in 2009.

The worst hit among the major European banks is Switzerland’s Union Bank of Switzerland, or UBS, now down a spectacular 60% from its all time high and still posting unbelievable losses on a weekly or bi-weekly basis since last fall.

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