The Developing Markets Team just concluded its annual offsite in Manila and parallel research tracks across Asia. Beyond an ambitious schedule of company research visits throughout the region, the focus this year was on improving the research process and fostering a sense of partnership across the team.

Over the past few years, we have been on a journey dedicated to building a world-class research team and enhancing the infrastructure needed to support the Developing Markets Fund. We have hired great young talent that has added bandwidth, processing power, energy and creativity. We are now pleased to announce the hiring of Oleg Maximov, an enormously talented analyst with 25 years of experience, a significant part of that time covering commodities.

While our team has become more seasoned and achieved major improvements in research infrastructure, we want to continue to evolve and adapt. Beyond experience, this involves building a culture of partnership: one where everyone is vested in the same outcome. We are creating a culture where partners don’t simply wait to be given problems to solve, but instead feel inspired to be “problem seekers.” The objective is generating performance and the method is producing highly differentiated research.

To that end, we maintain our proven philosophy of investing in extraordinary companies across the developing world. We seek to unearth companies with unusual competitive advantages, durable structural growth and a host of real options, which we believe will deliver significant value over time. However, we refuse to stop expanding our tool set and reducing our “blind spots” ― areas of less significant advantage.

A New Approach to Commodities

One area of clear ― and longstanding ― weakness is in the resource sector. We are making a determined effort to build capabilities to be more “commodity-aware,” both in terms of resource-oriented stocks and commodity currencies. Given his years of experience, Oleg will be able to make significant contributions in achieving this goal. The objective is NOT a material expansion of positions in mining or energy companies, as we largely missed the enormous high beta commodity rally in 2016. Instead, we want to develop a set of frameworks to think structurally about commodity stocks and related currencies over the next few years.

I am enormously proud of what we have accomplished so far in our journey to build an excellent investment team with tremendous cognitive diversity. We have a cast of original thinkers with a clear mandate to identify idiosyncratic opportunities, to find problems and to challenge convention and, most importantly, me. I am confident we will do great things in the future.

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