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Formerly Red-Hot Fidelity Fund Reopens

Also, a growth leader and a laggard, a Putnam manager retires, and more.

Morningstar Analysts, 11/16/2009

Fidelity International Small Cap FISMX, managed by Colin Stone, Noriko Takahashi, and Wilson Wong, reopened on Tuesday. The fund currently has about $714 million in assets, after having reached a high of almost $2.3 billion at the end of 2005.

This fund started its existence red-hot. Launched in mid-2002, it produced an 80% return in 2003, followed by returns of about 29% in each of the next two calendar years. However, those returns led to a flood of cash, and the fund closed in May 2005. It tanked in 2006 and has produced slightly above-average returns since. The fund went into net redemptions in mid-2006 and has suffered outflows since, though recently net flows have been near zero on a month-to-month basis.

The fund has also suffered from some manager departures over the years; none of the managers from the original lineup in 2002 remains at the fund.

One Growth Fund Thrives while Another Languishes
Janus Orion
JORNX manager John Eisinger must be enjoying his second year at the fund a lot more than the first. This fund had a horrific 2008, but Eisinger stayed aggressive rather than retreat into defensive stocks, and the fund is up 48.5% for the year to date. Some of his most aggressive bets were on the financials side. He owns Goldman Sachs GS and Morgan Stanley MS, which are both up more than 100% for the year. His eclectic portfolio also has oil, health-care, cyclical, and Internet stocks.

In the meantime, momentum maven Brandywine BRWIX is stuck in the mud. Brandywine's year has been so bad that it has dragged its five- and 10-year records into the muck. The fund's 5.4% year-to-date gain is in the bottom 2% of mid-growth and is down 1% this year, and its 10-year return is 0.11%, placing it in the middle of the third quartile. With a turnover rate greater than 200%, it's not easy to piece together exactly what has hurt, but it did make a bet on fast-food chains Burger King BKC and Wendy's Arby's Group WEN.PAGEBREAK

Putnam Manager Retires
Putnam's head of small- and mid-cap equities, Ned Shadek, retired on Friday, Nov. 6. Shadek, a longtime veteran at Putnam, had also been the lead manager of Putnam Small Cap Value PSLAX since its inception in 1999. The fund's record isn't very impressive, but during that time, a number of personnel changes were made to the team, so it's difficult to gauge Shadek's individual performance. Eric Harthun, who rejoined Shadek as a comanager on the fund at the end of 2008, will take the reins as the fund's sole manager. The pair worked together from mid-2002 through the beginning of 2006 and posted competitive returns during that period before Harthun moved on to work on a large-cap fund at Putnam. Shadek's direct responsibilities for the fund's daily management had been scaled back since Harthun's return, and we expect no major issues as a result of Shadek's retirement. Meanwhile, Putnam has no plans to name a new head of small- and mid-cap equities; the teams will report directly to Walter Donovan, Putnam's chief investment officer.

AIM Lowers Target-Date Fees
AIM announced it is cutting expenses for its target-date fund lineups. The new expense ratio of 0.81% puts the AIM target-date funds near the cheapest quintile for target-date fund lineups. To get to that level, AIM is subsidizing expenses. They will last through Nov. 4, 2010, at least.

Ariel Appreciation Names Comanager
Timothy Fidler joins John Rogers and Matthew Sauer as a portfolio manager of Ariel Appreciation CAAPX. Fidler has served as co-portfolio manager with Charles Bobrinskoy of Ariel Focus ARFFX since its inception.

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