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Fund Times: Fund Reopenings Ring in the New Year

Plus, PIMCO's retirement funds, 130/30 launches, and more.

Morningstar Analysts, 12/24/2007

It looks like Third Avenue International Value TAVIX won't be the only foreign small/mid-value stalwart to welcome new investors in coming weeks. Following suit, Tweedy, Browne Global Value TBGVX will reopen on Jan. 2. The fund has remained closed since mid-2005, when the dearth of attractively priced investment ideas worldwide, coupled with management's unwillingness to compromise on its value-oriented strategy, caused its cash stake to climb as high as 20%. The fund's cash level has since come down, and according to management, continued fallout from this summer's credit crunch has opened up more opportunities to purchase stocks trading at appealing discounts to intrinsic value estimates. Given the team's vigilance, we'd expect the fund to close promptly once opportunities dry up.

First Eagle Overseas SGOVX will also reopen to investors Jan. 14, as will its world-allocation sibling First Eagle Global SGENX. First Eagle Overseas initially shuttered its doors in February 2004 for similar reasons--a deluge of inflows outpaced the availability of compelling investment opportunities, especially among small and midsize companies--and First Eagle Global closed a year later. First Eagle Gold had already reopened in October, so as of Jan. 14 all five First Eagle funds will be available to new investors.

And we're not done yet. On Jan. 2, investors will have the opportunity to purchase shares of two more fine foreign value offerings: Oakmark International Small Cap OAKEX and its large-cap counterpart Oakmark International OAKIX. Both funds are run by David Herro, who was named Morningstar's International-Stock Manager of the Year in 2006. Of the funds mentioned above, these two have been unavailable the longest, since mid-2002 and the end of 2003, respectively. The reopenings come after Herro's strict value style caused both funds to struggle mightily relative to peers in 2007.

Target Retirement Funds, PIMCO-Style
As asset managers have caught on to the appeal of target-date retirement funds--those one-stop-shopping options for investors wanting a simple, hassle-free way to invest for retirement--the sector has taken off. Enter PIMCO. In a recent filing, the bond management firm outlined plans to join the target-retirement fray in 2008 by launching a series of so-called RealRetirement Funds with target dates ranging from 2010 to 2050.

So far, much of the target-retirement debate has centered on achieving the right mix of stocks versus bonds and the degree to which that mix becomes more conservative over time. The proposed PIMCO funds, though, appear to offer a new twist on this formula. Instead of stashing close to 90% of assets in equities from the get-go, as is common for target funds with longer investment horizons, the PIMCO funds will take a more diversified approach, supplementing traditional stock and bond holdings with a helping of "real" assets, such as commodities and real estate. PIMCO also appears to be placing more emphasis than rivals on hedging against inflation: As investors near retirement, for instance, a growing stake in Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities will enter the mix.

The funds will be managed by Jamil Baz, who joined PIMCO in April 2007 after prior stints at Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. Fee estimates were not disclosed in the filing.PAGEBREAK

When it Rains 130/30 Funds, It Really Pours
Once reserved for institutional and high-net worth investors, 130/30 products have begun entering the retail space in earnest. As BlackRock's 130/30 product, BlackRock Large Cap Core Plus, hits the market this week, three more fund companies announced plans to launch similar offerings in 2008. First up, Fidelity will throw its hat into the long-short ring with Fidelity 130/30 Large Cap. Skipper Keith Quinton, who blends quantitative and fundamental analysis in running Fidelity Disciplined Equity FDEQX and Fidelity Tax-Managed Stock FTXMX, will use a similar approach here. Starting out, the fund's price tag will be capped at 1.30%.

Bear Stearns may not be as ubiquitous as Fidelity when it comes to retail mutual funds, but it, too, will launch a 130/30 fund (Bear Stearns Multifactor 130/30 Core Equity). The offering will focus on domestic stocks in the Russell 3000 Index. Michael Rosen, who heads the quantitative equity team at Bear Stearns Asset Management, will manage the fund, and fees will be capped at 1.25%.

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