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Fund Company CEOs Get Pay Raises

Plus, Fairholme's Berkowitz will defend stock picks and more ...

Rob Wherry, 01/26/2012

It's that time of the year when publicly traded mutual fund companies start to reveal how much they are paying the people in the corner offices. In a recent filing Franklin Resources BEN, the parent firm of the Franklin Templeton mutual fund family, revealed CEO Gregory Johnson pulled down $9.9 million last year--a 47% jump from 2010 and more than double what he took home in 2009. Most of the increase was due to hefty stock options. Morningstar Footnoted explored the pay package and an earlier special dividend in detail here. Four of the firm's top executives also saw increases, with the largest going to executive vice president of global distribution Vijay Advani, whose $5.8 million in 2011 was up from $3.8 million in 2010. The compensation hikes came in a solid year for the firm, which included increases in assets under management, revenue and earnings, and a continued emphasis on international expansion.

Johnson wasn't the only fund company CEO receiving company stock. A recent BlackRock BLK filing shows founder Laurence Fink was awarded 39,056 shares valued at $7.2 million and an additional 32,766 valued at $3.8 million (that are subject to performance benchmarks). Fink's compensation will probably rise since the filing doesn't mention his salary. He made a total of $23.8 million in 2010, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Fund companies such as Janus JNS and T. Rowe Price TROW have yet to reveal their 2011 compensation figures.

Berkowitz Set to Defend Portfolio Choices
Though Fairholme FAIRX has posted strong returns so far in 2012, the fund's dismal 2011 still weighs on its trailing one- and three-year results and popularity. About $6.8 billion exited the fund last year and cut its asset base in half as it lost 32.4%--more than it dropped in the 2008 downturn--as financial holdings such as Bank of America BAC and American International Group AIG plunged. Bruce Berkowitz, manager of the fund, whose 10-year record still sits atop the large-value category, will try to calm shareholders' nerves with an interview on Feb. 8, 2012, that will be moderated by the firm’s new research chief Fred Fraenkel and posted on the fund's website. Berkowitz is sure to discuss why he has stood by last year's disappointments, though many of them such as Sears Holdings SHLD and Bank of America have rebounded sharply this month. Investors can submit questions through the fund's investor relations email address: investorrelations@fairholme.net

Bridgeway Tweaks Process
Bridgeway Ultra-Small Company BRUSX, which has focused on the tiniest U.S. stocks (those in the lowest decile of the New York Stock Exchange by market capitalization), has modified its prospectus to include companies in the second-lowest decile of the NYSE as well. Lead manager John Montgomery made the change to better reflect the fund's actual holdings. Its quantitative stock-picking models often continue to hold stocks in this volatile universe when they appreciate and rise into the second-lowest decile. Recently 40% of the fund's assets were in such stocks. He says the new language will also give the fund the flexibility to occasionally buy a stock in that second-lowest decile in order to better match the recommendations of the quant models. The fund's miniscule $160 million average market capitalization--the lowest in Morningstar's small-growth category--isn't expected to change much as a result of this modification.

Invesco Consolidation Continues
A year and a half after it acquired Van Kampen Funds from Morgan Stanley, Invesco continues to tidy its fund lineup. The firm recently said it will merge three funds with overlapping mandates, pending shareholder approval. Invesco has conducted dozens of similar mergers since buying Van Kampen in 2010.

Invesco High Income Muni AHMAX will merge into Invesco Van Kampen High Yield Municipal ACTFX. High Income Muni shareholders shouldn't expect much change. The same management team runs both funds using similar strategies (although Van Kampen High Yield Municipal owns some bonds subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax that Invesco High Income Muni avoided). High Income Muni shareholders could see lower fees, though, because the $4.9 billion Van Kampen High Yield Municipal is cheaper.

In addition, Invesco plans to merge former Morgan Stanley funds Invesco US Mid Cap Value MMCAX and Invesco Van Kampen American Value MSAJX. The same team has run the funds using similar strategies since 2003. There shouldn't be much change besides a slight fee decrease.

Rob Wherry is a mutual fund analyst with Morningstar.
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