Mutual fund managers played safe in 2017 when it came to their top holdings. In a year that saw several scheme categories deliver market-beating 30 per cent-plus returns, the list of companies most owned by mutual funds remained the same, by and large. There were only five stocks at the start of the year in which mutual fund exposure was over Rs 10,000 crore. At the end of the year, this number rose to 10. Fund managers tried to remain with trusted businesses in the large-cap category and kept on pumping inflows into select counters. HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, State Bank of India (SBI), Infosys and Larsen & Toubro (L&T) were the five most-owned stocks. Infosys slipped two notches to fifth spot with SBI replacing it and L&T moved up one notch to fourth spot. “There are very few choices available in the core part of the portfolio. At best, we can juggle holdings but we cannot do away with any.
Infosys, despite facing tremendous difficulties, has no alternative,” said the chief investment officer of a large fund house.There was significant churning, however, lower down the order. Tata Motors, HCL Technologies and Sun Pharmaceuticals, which were among the top 15 most-owned stocks at the beginning of the year, were replaced by GAIL, NTPC and Bharti Airtel. Maruti Suzuki, the sixth most-owned stock at the beginning of the year, has slipped three notches down to ninth spot. Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) jumped from 13th spot to sixth. ITC and Reliance Industries continued to retain their previous spots. In all, mutual funds equity assets in the top 15 stocks stood at Rs 2.12 lakh crore by November, nearly a fourth of total equity assets and up from Rs 1.32 lakh crore a year ago.