Analysis: what will be the best source of income this year?

Charity investors face a struggle to get a satisfactory income from their assets in 2010, fund managers are warning. David Ainsworth reports

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"Maintaining income in 2010 is going to be quite tough," says Richard Maitland, head of charities at investment house Sarasin. "Interest rates are low and will remain low, in our opinion, so there will be little income from cash.

"This is a problem because other sources of income for charities are unlikely to improve, so they will be looking for income from their investments."

Katie Delacombe, vice-president of UK institutional business at JP Morgan, says her organisation also sees income generation as the major challenge of 2010.

"People are going to start taking many more risks with their cash as they chase income," she says.

But Andrew Pitt, head of charities at UBS, believes charities have some reasons to be optimistic.

"For charities with long-term portfolios, there's a much better outlook," he argues. "Most charities have been relatively sensible by not panicking and selling their portfolios at the bottom, so they're holding a lot of equities that still look pretty reasonable value.

"They're now reaping the rewards of a 30 per cent rise in the value of the all-share index last year, albeit off a very low base."

Maitland predicts that charities will move more of their money overseas, particularly into emerging markets, which would dilute the traditional focus of charity investors on UK equities.

"We think a major theme will be the movement of money overseas, but there's the possibility of a bubble forming in emerging markets, so shoving lots of money overseas quickly might not be a good idea," says Maitland.

Delacombe also believes the search for income-generating stocks could drive investors abroad. "There are more opportunities to receive a good income overseas," she says.

Some fund managers expect to see inflation become a problem in the future, but not until the end of the year or the start of 2011.

"Charities will have to look at real assets other than equities when this happens, though we don't expect it in 2010," says Maitland.

"You'll have to broaden your research. One class that looks a good bet to me is infrastructure investment."

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