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The Pacific Century?

Posted by: Lauren Young on November 8, 2007

You can call him self-serving, but Anthony Cragg, manager of the Wells Fargo Advantage Asia Pacific Fund, isn’t worried about a correction in the Asian markets—although he thinks one in probably coming down the pike, especially in the overheated Chinese stock markets. “Another correction would be entirely healthy,” says Cragg, whose fund is up an annualized 33% in during the past five years. “In fact, it would be a buying opportunity.”

Cragg has been running the fund for more than a decade, making him the elder statesman in the Asian mutual fund arena. He can also claim one of the best records, with a 10-year annualized return of 13.85%, according to Morningstar data through Oct. 31. You’d never guess that Cragg, who speaks with a Brittish accent, lives in Colorado—unless you notice the thinly braided rope bracelet he wears with his pinstripe suit.

Right now Cragg is playing Asia via companies with exposure in the commodities arena. The fund’s top holdings include Straits Resources (coal), Lihir Gold (gold), and Mount Gibson Iron (iron). “It’s a vote of confidence in the super-cycle of commodities,” he explains. That super-cycle, he says, will last for decades as cities are built and more wealth is created all over Asia.

Cragg isn’t very diversified in his own investments, though. All of his non-retirement money is tied up in the $700 million portfolio, which owns about 100 stocks spread out amoung 14 Asian countries. And it doesn’t sound like he’s changing his asset allocation any time soon. “This is the Pacific Century,” Cragg says. “And we are only seven years into it.”

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Bloomberg Businessweek’s Ben Steverman focuses on the latest moves in financial markets and emerging trends in stocks, bonds, and funds, always with an eye toward giving readers a better understanding of the sometimes confusing and often chaotic world of money. Standard & Poor’s senior index analyst Howard Silverblatt will also provide his take on companies’ finances and the markets. Voted one of the “Top 100 Finance Blogs” in 2007.

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