(Bloomberg Gadfly) -- In a squall, any haven will do. As global stock markets wobbled in the first quarter amid a surge in volatility, emerging-market equities held their nerve. That was after the MSCI Emerging Markets Index gained almost 35 percent in 2017, handily outpacing the 20 percent climb in the MSCI World Index.
That relative calm helped Ashmore Group Plc, which specializes in emerging markets, gather more assets from investors in the first quarter, according to figures released on Tuesday.
As Man Group Plc's results last week showed, investors seem willing to increase their allocations to active managers by more than their performance currently merits. Just $600 million of the $7 billion increase in Ashmore's assets under management in the first three months of the year came from investment performance.
So net inflows in the first quarter were $6.4 billion, the best since June 2013 and, according to analysts at UBS, the second biggest Ashmore has ever recorded. Corporate debt enjoyed the strongest growth, expanding by 21 percent to $9.4 billion, followed by local currency debt portfolios which grew by 19 percent to $17.7 billion.
Ashmore's share price had already outpaced its U.K. peers in recent months. The jump following Tuesday's trading update puts the stock firmly into positive territory for this year.
The second quarter, though, is starting to look different from the first. Emerging market stocks underperformed the broader market by more than 3.5 percentage points in April; fixed income markets have also lagged, though not by as much.
Ashmore will need to prove to shareholders that it can deliver returns that both beat its benchmarks and compare credibly with developed markets to extend its sector-beating gains.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Mark Gilbert is a Bloomberg Gadfly columnist covering asset management. He previously was a Bloomberg View columnist, and prior to that the London bureau chief for Bloomberg News. He is the author of “Complicit: How Greed and Collusion Made the Credit Crisis Unstoppable.”
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