9/30/2011 1:02 PM ET|
New mutual funds: A progress report
Each of these 19 mutual funds launched within the past 3 years got off to a promising start. Here's a snapshot of how they're holding up.
Each year I write about the best new funds launched in that year. Today, I'd like to highlight funds featured in the past three years to see how they are looking. Things are become clearer, though we still don't have a lot of performance to go on.
I reviewed 19 funds. To save you time, I've listed them from most ready to buy to those with work to do. I'd encourage you do additional research to get the full scoop on them. I can't really do them justice here, but I think this can help you get some ideas worth pursuing.
Dodge & Cox Global Stock (DODWX) is a fine bet right now. It's an easier choice than most new funds, because it takes two proven strategies and glues them together. In addition, the fund came out of the box with a low expense ratio of 0.69%, whereas other funds tend to launch with higher expenses -- meaning that the first shareholders bear most of the burden of the launches. I visited Dodge & Cox the week after the U.S. downgrade by Standard & Poor's and was struck by how calm they were amid the turmoil. The better you know your investments, the less worried you are when markets get crazy.
Pimco EqS Pathfinder (PTHDX) is a compelling fund from Mutual Series (of Franklin Templeton) veterans Anne Gudefin and Chuck Lahr. They are excellent value investors, as demonstrated by their track records at Mutual Series. One surprise for me is that the two have kept their cash stake pretty low so far. It looks like that's partly because they've tapped into Pimco's expertise at hedging risk and so don't need as much as they might have at Mutual Series. This fund has 13% in cash now. Interestingly, Gudefin and Lahr have built a small analyst staff of three plus a large trading desk of 10. Besides the hedging support, they are also able to tap merger arbitrage, macroeconomic and currency analytics at Pimco that wouldn't have been at their disposal at Mutual Series.
DoubleLine Total Return Bond (DBLTX) can finally move beyond the legal fight between manager Jeffrey Gundlach and his former employer, TCW Group, which ended last month in a split decision. Amid all the tumult, Gundlach and team have continued to produce impressive performance that few managers have matched. He has done so by cobbling together less-liquid higher-risk mortgage securities that collectively have worked well but do make it a pretty aggressive fund.
American Funds International Growth and Income (IGAAX) is a similar story to Dodge & Cox Global. Dividends and foreign investing have long been staples of American's strategies, but this is the first time they are together in an all-equity format.
You have experienced managers and low costs, too. The fund aims for a 3.5% yield. That's potentially a challenge, but yields are higher overseas than in the United States.
Hotchkis and Wiley High Yield (HWHAX) is a nice little boutique fund. You have two former Pimco managers running a good fund with around $300 million in assets.
High yield is a little like stocks in that issue selection is critical, and a small asset base can mean greater flexibility. Ray Kennedy and Mark Hudoff are off to a strong start by combining cautious and aggressive positions.
Pimco Global Advantage Strategy Bond (PSAIX) is founded on the smart idea that weighting a global bond fund or index based on gross domestic product is better than market-weighted. That way, your exposure is related to a company's economic footprint; the traditional market weight means you are leaning on the most indebted nations. As a result, the fund has a fair amount in emerging markets and foreign currencies, but that doesn't sound so bad either. So far, it's off to a fine start. This fund's institutional shares are a better deal even if you have to pay a fee to get in. They charge 0.7% in expenses, while the retail D and A shares charge 1.1%.
Vanguard Explorer Value (VEVFX) doesn't boast household-name fund managers, but it does have promise. The fund brings together three well-established separate account managers to run this small-cap portfolio. The fund charges just 0.56%, so you're getting that exposure cheaply. This fund has a mere $116 million in assets, so it doesn't feel bloated the way that Vanguard Explorer (VEXPX) does.
Vanguard Total World Stock Index (VTWSX) and Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US Small Cap Index (VFSVX) are two broad index funds that won't disappoint you. However, with expense ratios of 0.45% and 0.55%, respectively, they aren't the cheapest at Vanguard. You could build comparable exposure a little more cheaply.
The small-cap index oddly has 14% of assets in Canada, so be sure to delve into both funds' quirks before you buy.
Artisan Growth Opportunities (ARTRX) has outstanding managers, but it has work to do on the expense front. Andrew Stephens, James Hamel, Matthew Kamm and Jason White have produced great results at now-closed small and midcap funds. I feel very good about them, but the fund is charging 1.5% -- and even that is with a fee waiver that expires in February.
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