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Fund Times: Fidelity Hires Another Promising Manager

Plus, news on Vanguard, Columbia, USAA, and Schwab.

Morningstar Analysts, 07/16/2007

Fidelity Institution Divison Hires Away Dreyfus Manager
Growth continues at Pyramis Global Advisors, the institutional division of Fidelity Investments. The firm hired away Daniel Crowe from Dreyfus Founders, where he worked since 2002 after leaving Marsico Capital. Most recently, he managed Dreyfus Founders Mid-Cap Growth FRSDX. His record there topped 97% of competitors in the mid-growth category from June 2004 through May, though we note that his record doesn't include a full market cycle yet.

Pyramis has been more open to hiring outside managers than Fidelity's retail fund division, which typically develops managers from within its own analyst ranks. In addition to hiring Crowe, Pyramis has hired away managers from Pioneer, American Century, and Putnam.

Vanguard Seeks Expansion of Actively Managed ETF Lineup
New actively managed, Treasury-focused ETFs may be on the way. Vanguard filed with the SEC to add an ETF share class to its actively managed Treasury funds: Vanguard Short-Term Treasury VFISX, Vanguard Intermediate-Term U.S. Treasury VFITX, and Vanguard Long-Term U.S Treasury VUSTX. Their mandates require at least 80% of assets to be invested in U.S. Treasury securities. If the SEC approves Vanguard's request, which may take years because it is in its early stages, it won't be the firm's first shot at ETF share classes for its actively managed funds. It has already successfully launched ETF share classes of its short-, intermediate-, and long-term funds as well as its total bond market offering.

Popular Columbia Fund Gets More Flexibility
Asset growth and strong performance are spurring change at Columbia Acorn Select LTFAX. At this $3.2 billion mid-cap growth fund, manager Ben Andrews has delivered a three-year annualized return of 21.2% to top more than 90% of rivals. In hopes of further strong returns, the fund's board has taken several steps.

First, it raised the minimum initial investment here from $50,000 to $100,000; while this is a step short of closing the fund to new investors, it has a similar effect. It also increased the number of stocks with market caps of less than $20 billion that Andrews may buy from 30 to 60. We'd like to see Andrews stay toward the low end of this range, as his success came with a compact portfolio of fewer than 50 stocks. Finally, the board also increased the fund's limit on foreign stocks from 25% to 33% of assets. On the whole, these changes may help Andrews maintain strong relative returns, but we caution shareholders not to expect the fund's knockout returns to persist forever.

USAA Introduces Requirements for New Shareholders
USAA funds will soon be harder to access. USAA Investment Management announced that as of Aug. 1 it will restrict new accounts to those who are eligible for USAA membership. USAA is a private, member-managed organization that has long focused on serving the needs of active and retired U.S. military personnel and their families. Current shareholders--including those not affiliated with or eligible for USAA membership--will not be affected by this change.

Schwab Plans New Wide-Ranging Income Fund
Charles Schwab Investment Management is planning a go-anywhere fixed-income offering. The firm recently filed plans with the SEC for Schwab Premier Income. This fund will have little holding it back. It may invest in government, agency, and corporate bonds from the United States, developed and developing foreign markets, as well as both income-producing and non-income-producing equities from across the globe. We'll follow up with new details as they emerge.

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