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Don't Count Out These Emerging-Markets Skippers

This trio has more experience than it appears.

Gregg Wolper, 12/08/2010

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One of the key factors in evaluating a fund is the experience and tenure of the manager. If you are going to put a substantial amount of money into a fund, you want to entrust it to someone who has run that fund for a long time (successfully, of course) rather than a newbie with no track record.

That's especially important in a volatile field such as emerging markets, where knowing the landscape can be particularly difficult and having relevant experience can be especially valuable.

Sometimes, though, what might appear to be a rookie is actually a manager with plenty of experience. So it's worth taking a further look, even if the headline number shows that the manager's tenure on the fund is meager. Below are three emerging-markets stock funds whose manager-tenure figures on their current fund are not particularly long, but whose records in fact go back much longer. It's worth getting to know them; so if you are looking for an emerging-markets fund, these choices won't be eliminated automatically by a simple screen on manager tenure.

T. Rowe Price Emerging Markets Stock PRMSX
The former manager at this fund, Chris Alderson, was regarded highly not only by Morningstar fund analysts, and apparently the higher-ups at T. Rowe Price agreed: In March 2009, he was promoted to the position of president of T. Rowe Price International, giving up the reins of this fund in the process. It would be easy to cross this fund off the list as a result.

However, that would be too hasty. Gonzalo Pangaro became a comanager in autumn 2008 in order to provide a smooth transition from Alderson. Long before that, Pangaro, who's been with T. Rowe since 1995, was a Latin America analyst and then manager of T. Rowe Price Latin America PRLAX for the better part of eight years, racking up a strong record in the process. During that time, he played a substantial role in making the Latin American picks for T. Rowe Price Emerging Markets Stock.

Of course, there's more to emerging markets than Latin America. But Pangaro also oversaw the overall international-equity research effort at T. Rowe for a short time and will continue to have access to the managers of T. Rowe's regional emerging-markets funds.PAGEBREAK

In short, his years serving as a manager and an analyst in this area means that his tenure on this particular fund--just two years at this point--understates his actual experience. It's worth noting, too, that he is using the same style as his predecessors; so the fund's long-term history, which is reasonably impressive, is of more relevance than if a new manager with a new style had arrived from outside.

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