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Our Nominees for Fixed-Income Manager of the Year

We saved the best for last.

Eric Jacobson, 12/16/2010

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Whether for their exploits running international- and domestic-stock funds--which we covered earlier this week--or bond portfolios, we honor managers each year who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to do what's right for shareholders, deliver superior long-term returns, and produce strong results for the year. We also look for good stewards who have developed sound strategies. The following managers have distinguished themselves over time and during 2010. They are our nominees for this year's award, which will be announced during the first week of January.

Michael Hasenstab--Templeton Global Bond TPINX
It's been a relatively slow ascent to fame for Michael Hasenstab within the United States--even though this fund has had massive inflows during the past two years--but his success with running global bond portfolios has made him a well-known name overseas. A cursory look at his year-over-year record helps explain why: Assuming that Templeton Global Bond ends 2010 in the world-bond category's best quartile--the fund is hovering near the top of the group with an 11.4% return through Dec. 10--it will be the eighth time in the past 10 calendar years since Hasenstab joined as a comanager. That stellar record, a broad and deep bench of global analytical resources, and a history of shrewd investing have more than helped to earn him a nomination this year.

Ray Kennedy and Mark Hudoff--Hotchkis and Wiley High Yield HWHAX
This one may be surprising because of the fund's youth and small size, but we've known Kennedy and Hudoff for years. They each spent a long stretch working under the well-regarded (and now retired) Ben Trosky at PIMCO High Yield PHYDX, and they eventually took their turns as lead manager of that fund before departing the firm and joining Hotchkis and Wiley. They've made astute moves in 2010 and are off to a great start. Just as important, however, is that they've proved it's no fluke with so many years of great management under their belts.

Mark Kiesel--PIMCO Investment Grade Corporate Bond PIGIX
We've known Mark Kiesel for years, as well, but most of our conversations in the past were about his involvement with and contributions to other PIMCO funds, including Bill Gross' flagship PIMCO Total Return PTTDX. He has quietly built a terrific record with this dedicated corporate-bond portfolio, though, and investors only began to come around during the financial crisis in late 2008. They have plowed in so much money that the fund has swelled to more than $6.4 billion from less than $100 million at the start of 2008. Kiesel's record will be a bit more difficult to maintain with a larger asset base, but it has not been a product of portfolio size given how much money his large team has run over the years across multiple PIMCO offerings. Meanwhile, newer investors have earned terrific returns as Kiesel has kept up the pace thus far. PAGEBREAK

Curtis Mewbourne--PIMCO Diversified Income PDIIX
Another longtime PIMCO manager, Mewbourne was involved with this portfolio from the get-go but only took over as manager when Mohamed El-Erian left to run the Harvard Management Company in 2005. (He has since returned and is now PIMCO's CEO and co-chief investment officer.) It hasn't been a cakewalk given the difficulty of running this very global, credit-focused multisector portfolio during the 2007 and 2008 financial crisis, but Mewbourne--who is also co-head of PIMCO's emerging-markets desk--has acquitted himself well. The fund has earned a great record during his tenure, including that of 2010, which included a 13.4% gain as of Dec. 10.

Tad Rivelle, Steve Kane, Laird Landmann, and Team--Metropolitan West Total Return Bond MWTRX
The only managers on this list who have once before received a Manager of the Year award, the MetWest team has been through an incredible 2010 both organizationally and as investors. It agreed to sell the firm to TCW in late 2009 and immediately took responsibility for the fixed-income operations of the latter when TCW famously terminated its CIO and fixed-income leader, Jeffrey Gundlach. The time since has been marked by controversy, given legal conflicts that have developed between Gundlach and TCW, but the team has continued to hammer away at this fund, making astute portfolio decisions and generating terrific results. Whatever the challenge, this group continues to prove that it's a force to be reckoned with.

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