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Veteran investors lay out options for long-term investments

They are setting aside the next headline on trade or PMI and sticking their necks out on what might be the Next Big Thing to invest in

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Jim Rogers of Rogers Holdings Inc is optimistic about the agriculture sector's prospects.

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"What you can depend on is gold, really." - Mark Mobius, who set up Mobius Capital Partners last year after three decades at Franklin Templeton Investments

Tokyo

INVESTING for short-term returns this year might sometimes have seemed like an exercise in anticipating US President Donald Trump's next tweet.

But some market players have still put aside time for ideas that go beyond the next headline on trade or manufacturing PMI (purchasing managers' index).

The following are comments on long-term strategies from a number of veteran investors:

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Market voices on:

New frontiers

Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings Inc, says investing in crops could be a winner.

Noting that agriculture has been "an unmitigated disaster" for 30 to 35 years, he noted that the Japanese word kiki frames disaster and opportunity as the same thing, and expressed optimism about the long-term prospects of the agriculture sector.

Beyond that, he said he is open to "new places". After having already built positions in Russia, he is looking at the non-traditional markets of Vietnam, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and Venezuela, and also keeping an eye on developments on the Korean peninsula, where some day, barriers between north and south could come down.

"It's going to be the most exciting place in the world for the next 10 to 20 years - when the 38th parallel is completely open," said the investment veteran, who declined to say how much he now manages.

Golden view

Mark Mobius has his eyes set on gold.

"Because these cyber currencies are coming out, so the money supply is expanding at an incredible rate. Nobody knows how much money is out there," said the man who set up Mobius Capital Partners last year after three decades at Franklin Templeton Investments. "What you can depend on is gold, really."

Perhaps befitting his reputation as an evangelist for emerging-markets, he was still confident in their attraction, thanks to trend growth rates.

He sees evolution, however, in how the asset class is conceived. Because many emerging-market stocks are listed in New York or London, and a number of American companies that generate over half of their earnings from developing nations, "it's getting more differentiated", he said.

Small appeal

Graham McCraw, an equity investment specialist for Aberdeen Standard Investments based in Edinburgh, made his first trip to Asia in September to address a spike in inquiries from clients on small-cap stocks.

"There's been a big uptick in the last six to 12 months from institutional clients," he said in an interview in Tokyo. "Investors are just looking for different asset classes."

Small-cap stocks have traditionally been shunned by institutional investors, on the grounds that they tend to be riskier than large-cap ones.

"It seems that attitude is potentially changing," Mr McCraw said.

Investors with large-cap-only portfolios are missing out on 70 per cent of investment opportunities, he said.

Beyond traditional

Matteo Germano at Amundi Asset Management, a unit of one of Europe's biggest asset managers, cites alternative assets as a key investment target.

"We strongly believe that alternative assets such as factor investments and real assets will become an increasingly important asset class over the coming years, as investors seek diversity and new potential sources of return amid expected lower returns on traditional asset classes," said the head of multi assets at Amundi in an interview via e-mail last month. BLOOMBERG