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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.

The fee cuts will be in place May 1.

Janus Worldwide Gets New Skipper
Northern Trust's George Maris is taking over as portfolio manager of the $2.5 billion world-stock fund Janus Worldwide JAWWX.

Maris, who doesn't make big stock or sector bets, is less bold than the traditional Janus manager. He ran both retail and institutional accounts at Northern Trust, and previously served as a portfolio manager at Columbia and Putnam. He posted decent returns versus large-blend and foreign large-blend peers in his few years running funds, including Northern Institutional Large Cap Equity BDVAX, Northern Institutional International Growth BIGDX, and Northern International Equity NOIGX. Matthew Peron and Christopher Shipley have taken charge of Institutional Large Cap Equity, while Douglas McEldowney now runs Institutional International Growth and International Equity.

Maris takes over for Brent Lynn, Morningstar's 2010 International-Stock Manager of the Year, who temporarily stepped in to run the fund when Laurent Saltiel left Janus for another firm after just 13 months at the helm. Lynn's primary responsibility is the top-performing Janus Overseas JAOSX. Lynn had continued to run Janus Worldwide as Saltiel did, focusing on firms with good growth prospects, solid balance sheets, and competitive advantages.

Senator Harkin Weighs in on 401(k)s
Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, recently proposed some changes to the 401(k) retirement system. Most significantly, he suggested that employees' retirement contributions "need to be pooled to take advantage of economies of scale and managed by professionals who carefully select and monitor every investment in a diversified portfolio." The full text of his speech is here.

Harkin, who made the suggestions during an address at the National Institute on Retirement Security annual policy conference, is also holding a series of hearings on retirement.PAGEBREAK

Fidelity Manager Changes
Fidelity recently announced a series of manager changes. Peter Saperstone will no longer run Fidelity Fifty FFTYX and Fidelity Advisor Mid Cap FMCAX, which he'd run since 2006 and 2001, respectively.

Steve DuFour, who has had challenging tenures on prior funds including Fidelity Equity Income II FEQTX and is currently on the team running Fidelity Worldwide FWWFX, replaces him on Fifty.

A multimanager team will replace Saperstone on Advisor Mid Cap. Monty Kori, Pierre Sorel, Douglas Simmons, Shadman Riaz, Gordon Scott, Michael Valentine, Patrick Venanzi, and Samuel Wald have been named to the fund.

Saperstone is joining the Stock Selector Large Cap Group at Fidelity, which is headed by Bob Stansky. He'll focus on consumer discretionary stocks and will also join the management teams of several funds, including Fidelity Balanced FBALX.

PIMCO Deepens Global Equity Bench
PIMCO has just hired a number of investment professionals to bulk up its actively managed equities team. The new hires are Singapore-based equity trader Tim Bruenjes; London-based emerging-markets analysts Vlad Cara and Ewan Markson-Brown; and Nate Velarde, an analyst on the Pathfinder deep-value team in London.

They join Niall Hession, an equity trader, and Amit Mehta, a senior emerging-markets-equities analyst, both of whom landed at PIMCO's London office in February. Eden Simmer, a New York-based equities trader, joined the firm in October 2010.

Mississippi Students Beat FINRA to the Punch with New SRO
Students in the Business Law Society at the University of Mississippi have created a self-regulatory organization for independent investment advisors. It will be called the Self-Regulatory Organization for Independent Investment Advisors and will be based in Oxford, Miss.

The Securities and Exchange Commission had recommended the creation of an SRO to monitor investment advisors. The Business Law Society, founded by securities law professor Mercer Bullard, positions the SRO as an alternative to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which has broker-dealer oversight and is poised to do the same for advisors.

PIMCO Total Return's Government Stake at Zero
Check out Morningstar director of fixed-income research Eric Jacobson's take on PIMCO Total Return's move away from government securities.

Ryan Wilsey will begin serving as comanager of Parnassus Small-Cap PARSX May 1, joining Jerome Dodson. He'd served as the fund's dedicated analyst.

The $1.9 billion Invesco Real Estate IARAX is closing to new investors April 29.

David Readerman has joined Forward Management, where he'll be lead portfolio manager for a global go-anywhere strategy he's helping develop. He's also been named a manager of Forward Small Cap Equity FFHAX. Readerman joins Forward from Marsico Capital Management, where he served as a senior investment analyst.

On April 15, DWS Emerging Markets Fixed Income SZEAX and DWS Global Bond SZGAX will change their names to DWS Enhanced Emerging Markets Fixed Income and DWS Enhanced Global Bond. William Chepolis, John Ryan, and Darwei Kung also joined the management teams of the funds.

James Trowbridge is no longer on the management team of VALIC Company I Global Real Estate VGREX.

John Damian is no longer on the management team of VALIC Company I Value VAVAX.

Barry Ogden is no longer on the management team of Ivy Capital Appreciation WMEAX. The fund is now managed by new managers Philip Sanders and Daniel Becker.

Paul Szczygiel joined the management team of Columbia Small Cap Core LSMAX.

Laudus Mondrian International Fixed Income LIFNX will close to new investors March 11.

Michael Roberge is no longer on the management team of MFS Total Return MSFRX and MFS Research Bond MRBFX, enabling him to focus on his responsibilities as president, chief investment officer, and director of global research of MFS Investment Management.

Joseh MacDougall is no longer the manager of MFS Technology MTCAX. The fund is now managed by Matthew Sabel.

Katrina Mead is no longer a manager of MFS Research MFRFX and MFS Core Equity MRGAX. The funds are now managed by Joseph MacDougall.

On May 1, John Addeo will leave the management team of MFS Strategic Income MFIOX, MFS High Yield Opportunities MHOAX, MFS Diversified Income DIFAX, and MFS High Income MHITX. At that time, William Adams and David Cole will join the management team of MFS Strategic Income. Adams will also join the management teams of High Yield Opportunities, Diversified Income, and High Income.

On May 16, Nuveen Quantitative Large Cap Core FQCAX will change its name to Nuveen Quantitative Enhanced Core Equity.

Schroder U.S. Small and Mid Cap Opportunities SMDIX will close to new investors April 1.

Royce filed to launch a consultant share class of Royce Global Value RGVIX.

On April 1, 2011, AssetMark Large Cap Growth AFLGX, AssetMark Large Cap Value AFLVX, AssetMark Small/Mid Cap Value AFSVX, AssetMark International Equity AFIEX, AssetMark Tax-Exempt Fixed Income AFTIX, and AssetMark Core Plus Fixed Income AFCFX will change their names to GuideMark Large Cap Growth, GuideMark Large Cap Value, GuideMark Small/Mid Cap Core, GuideMark World ex-US, GuideMark Tax-Exempt Fixed Income, and GuideMark Core Fixed Income, respectively.

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