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Analyst Pick Artisan International Value Closes

Plus, Fidelity launches distinctive muni funds, PIMCO cuts fees, and more.

Morningstar Analysts, 03/14/2011

Artisan International Value ARTKX, an Analyst Pick in the foreign small/mid-value category that has seen inflows of around $1.9 billion since early 2009, closed to new investors this week. The fund has a history of prudent closures; it was closed from early 2007 through early 2009 due to significant inflows.

Managers David Samra and Daniel O'Keefe, Morningstar's 2008 International-Stock Managers of the Year, ply a low-turnover, value-oriented strategy with a compact portfolio of 40 to 50 stocks. The fund is the category's second-best performer since its September 2002 inception.

Fidelity Launches Defined-Maturity Funds
In May, Fidelity will launch four defined-maturity municipal-bond funds, the first open-end municipal funds of their kind. The funds will be named Fidelity Municipal Income 2015, Fidelity Municipal Income 2017, Fidelity Municipal Income 2019, and Fidelity Municipal Income 2021. IShares offers some muni ETFs with similar structures and American Century has some taxable-bond funds that invest in zero-coupon Treasuries.

Many retail investors already buy muni bonds directly with some future liability in mind (if investors have an expense in five years, they buy a five-year bond). The challenge with that approach is that it can be very expensive to buy bonds in smaller dollar amounts, and it's also difficult to get good diversification.

The funds will be run by a team of some of the best muni managers around, led by Mark Sommer. Jamie Pagliocco and Kevin Ramundo will serve as comanagers. The Fidelity funds will clock in with expense ratios of 0.40%, just a bit more expensive than the iShares ETFs.

Fidelity also announced the launch of Fidelity Conservative Income Bond fund, which will be managed by James K. "Kim" Miller. The fund will invest at least 80% of assets in U.S. money market and investment-grade bonds. Miller joined Fidelity in 1991 as a muni credit analyst, became a bond trader in 1998, and then served as a taxable-credit analyst and manager of muni money market funds.

PIMCO Cuts Management Fees
PIMCO announced management-fee cuts to a number of funds in its lineup. The move follows the firm's move to bring distribution in-house (it had formerly been handled by parent Allianz), which will be effective April 11. The firm says handling its own distribution led to the fee cuts.

The reductions affect the A, B, C, D, and R shares of 18 funds in PIMCO's lineup and range from 5 to 15 basis points. Fees at PIMCO Total Return PTTDX and PIMCO Low Duration PLDDX will be reduced by 5 basis points, and the Real Retirement series will be reduced by 10 basis points.

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