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Fund Times: Artisan Launches Global Equity Fund

Plus, Vanguard's new fund, manager changes at Fidelity and MFS, and more.

Morningstar Analysts, 12/10/2007

Artisan Partners plans to throw its hat in the global equity ring. Artisan Global Value Fund will be available for purchase starting Dec. 10, 2007. Comanagers David Samra and Daniel O'Keefe will apply the same bottom-up value-conscious approach applied at their other fund Artisan International Value ARTKX (a Fund Analyst Pick that closed in March 2007). They will look for well-managed companies with strong free cash flow and high returns on capital that are trading below their intrinsic values. Although we like Artisan International Value, neither manager has run a fund that invested in U.S. stocks by themselves before (though they did contribute ideas to Oakmark Global OAKGX when they worked for the fund's advisor, Harris Associates). Despite a fee waiver, this fund's estimated expense ratio of 1.48% is still pricey.

Vanguard Adds New Market-Neutral Fund
Vanguard recently launched Vanguard Market Neutral. The firm announced plans for this fund in August. AXA Rosenberg and Vanguard will serve as investment advisors. The managers will seek to provide long-term capital appreciation while minimizing market risk exposure. They will focus on large- to mid-cap stocks and use fundamental and quantitative approaches. Similar to other Vanguard funds, this one comes with a cheap price tag, relative to its long-short category. The Investor and Institutional shares will have estimated expense ratios of 0.50% and 0.40%, respectively. The fund will require a minimum investment of $250,000 for Investor shares and $5 million for Institutional shares.

Fidelity Shuffles Managers
Fidelity has named Harlan Carere as the new manager of Fidelity Advisor Capital Development FDTTX, succeeding Adam Hetnarski. Carere joined Fidelity in 2000 as an equity analyst. He has managed various Fidelity sector funds, and more recently has assisted manager Harry Lange on Fidelity Magellan FMAGX. We're not surprised by this latest development at Fidelity as the firm has groomed Carere to run a diversified fund. Former manager Hetnarski will continue to run a sleeve of Fidelity VIP Contrafund.

Veteran Equity Manager Retires from MFS
Ken Enright, longtime manager of MFS Strategic Value MSVTX, has retired. This departure represents a significant loss as Enright's gutsy bets defined this large-value offering. Former analyst Gregory Locraft assumes management responsibilities for the fund. Under Locraft, investors should expect the fund's focus to shift towards higher-quality value stocks.

Cheap Bond ETFs Hit the Market
State Street Global Advisors' SPDR Lehman High Yield Bond ETF is now open for business. The fund tracks the performance of Lehman Brothers High Yield Very Liquid Index. As of Oct. 31, 2007, the fund was composed of 105 speculative-grade holdings. Communications, industrials, and consumer issues represent a significant portion of portfolio assets. The fund has a target expense ratio of 0.40%, which is competitive versus iShares and PowerShares' price tags for their high-yield ETFs.

Van Eck Global has joined the bond ETF race as well. The New York-based firm recently launched the Market Vectors-Lehman Brothers AMT-Free Intermediate Municipal Index ETF. As the name implies, the fund avoids debt that is subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax. It seeks to provide exposure to investment-grade municipal bonds with a nominal maturity of six to 17 years. The target expense ratio is capped at 0.20% through April 30, 2008. For more information on how you can minimize your AMT exposure, check out this article.

Dodge & Cox Announces Year-End Distributions
Dodge & Cox has posted capital gains distribution estimates for its stock and balanced funds (all of which are Analyst Picks for their category). The funds will pay distributions on Dec. 31 to investors of record as of Dec. 27. Dodge & Cox Stock DODGX will pay a total of $11.91per share ($0.74 in short-term gains and $11.17 in long-term gains); Dodge & Cox International Stock DODFX will pay $1.54 ($0.35 in short-term gains and $1.19 in long-term gains); Dodge & Cox Balanced DODBX expects to pay $4.71 ($0.18 in short-term gains and $4.53 in long-term gains). Dodge & Cox Income DODIX, a fixed-income Analyst Pick, won't make a capital gains distribution.

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