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Changes at Fidelity and Elsewhere

Plus, a new fund and a fund's founder retires.

Morningstar Analysts, 01/19/2009

Morningstar's fund analysts cover 2,000 mutual funds. Their full analyst reports, including Stewardship Grades, are available in Morningstar Principia Mutual Funds Advanced and Morningstar Advisor Workstation Office Edition.

On Jan. 12, Jim Catudal took the reins of Fidelity Growth & Income FGRIX, replacing manager Tim Cohen. Cohen's three-year tenure was disastrous: The fund's 18% annual loss for the trailing three-year period through December 2008 was twice the S&P 500 Index's loss over the period and one of the worst showings in the large-blend category. At one time the fund owned AIG AIG, Fannie Mae FNM, Freddie Mac FRE, Washington Mutual, and Wachovia WB--all of which either are in government receivership or desperately sold themselves to stronger competitors.

Cohen's replacement is Jim Catudal. He's managed Fidelity Stock Selector FDSSX since 2001, delivering solid results.  His record at Stock Selector is decent, but Growth & Income investors who want in on the new fund should know there may be changes in store. Cohen ran the fund with a value bent, but Catudal has more of a growth orientation.

Thornburg Loses a Manager
Brad Kinkelaar, one of the co-portfolio managers of Thornburg Investment Income Builder TIBAX, will retire as the fund's comanager and as an employee of Thornburg Investment Management, Inc. Brian McMahon, Thornburg's chief investment officer, and Jason Brady continue to serve as co-portfolio managers for the fund.

When the Going Gets Rough
T. Rowe Price will launch a new bond fund, T. Rowe Price Strategic Income PRSNX, which will focus on some of the bond market's riskiest areas, including junk bonds, mortgage-backed securities, and emerging-markets debt. The fund can invest up to 65% of assets in noninvestment-grade, or high-yield, securities and up to 50% in non-U.S. dollar denominated foreign securities, including those from emerging-markets countries. Manager Steve Huber, who has been with T. Rowe Price since 2006, will lead the fund.

Brandywine's Founder Retires
Following the latest meeting of the Brandywine Funds board of directors, the board announced that Foster Friess chose to end his tenure as an active director. Foster's retirement from the board became effective Dec. 31, the 23rd anniversary of Brandywine Fund's BRWIX launch.PAGEBREAK

Actively Managed ETFs on the Way
Grail Advisors has filed a registration statement for two new actively managed ETFs. The Grail American Beacon Large Cap Value ETF will be managed against the Russell 1000 Index benchmark and the Grail American Beacon International Equity ETF will be managed against the the MSCI EAFE. The funds represent the industry's first actively managed ETFs that use traditional active management. The funds are similar to mutual funds in that they will allow unrestricted trading by the portfolio managers.

Madoff Burns More Fund Firms
The fund industry's largest victim of the unfolding Madoff fraud is still Oppenheimer Funds. Its Tremont Group Holdings hedge-fund firm had more than $3 billion invested with Madoff. Pioneer Investments has been wounded as well. The fund shop, which is a unit of Italian company UniCredit, has confirmed that it had $1.1 billion invested in Madoff vehicles, most of it through Austria's Bank Medici. The losses were primarily borne by international institutional investors in Pioneer Alternative Investments' Primeo Select and Primeo Executive funds, Pioneer says.

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