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RS Investments' Core Growth Team Departs

Vanguard cuts fees on 30 mutual funds, Michael Mauboussin leaves Legg Mason, and Franklin Income takes on comanagers.

Morningstar Fund Analysts, 01/04/2013

RS Investments has removed the entire management team of RS Capital Appreciation RCAPX--David Carr, Larry Coats, and Christy Phillips--and will merge the fund into RS Growth RSGRX in March 2013. The management team of RS Growth--Stephen Bishop, Melissa Chadwick-Dunn, and D. Scott Tracy--assumed the helm of RS Capital Appreciation as of Dec. 3. The fund's former advisor, Oak Value Capital Management, was purchased by RS Investments in mid-2010, and the fund changed its name from Oak Value.

RS Capital Appreciation had been chosen as one of Morningstar's Ultimate Stock Pickers when the list was relaunched in April 2009, but it is unlikely to recur in 2013, as funds are typically removed from that list when the managers responsible for the long-term track record are no longer in charge.

RS Investments dropped the team after a relatively short tenure. That said, from the time that the fund adopted the RS naming convention in September 2010 through December 2012, the fund's 13.8% annualized return trails the 15.1% and 16.5% of the large-growth category norm and the S&P 500 Index, respectively.

RS officials declined to comment on the management change.

Vanguard Cuts Fees on 30 Funds, Hikes Them on 7 Others
In late December, Vanguard made modest changes to the expense ratios for 37 Vanguard mutual funds, owing to shifts in the cost of managing the funds.

The changes, which typically are driven by factors like economies of scale (which can reduce the costs to operate a fund) or declines in assets (which can hike the costs), meant that investors will pay slightly less for 30 Vanguard funds and slightly more for seven funds.

At the same time, Vanguard announced price cuts on 24 exchange-traded funds and price increases for two of its ETFs. We previously wrote about those fee changes in the Dec 31, 2012, ETF Weekly.

Most of the fee changes were pretty minimal. The most meaningful cost reductions involved Vanguard's equity sector funds. Most of the firm's equity sector funds went from charging 0.19% to 0.14%.

Click here for a list of all of the Vanguard mutual fund price cuts.

Michael Mauboussin Departs Legg Mason
Michael Mauboussin, Legg Mason Capital Management's chief investment strategist, has left the firm, effective Jan. 2. According to LMCM, Mauboussin will be pursuing other opportunities, including serving as chairman of the board of trustees of the Santa Fe Institute and promoting his newest book, The Success Equation. (Mauboussin has authored several other well-regarded titles, including More Than You Know and Expectations Investing: Reading Stock Prices for Better Returns.)

Mauboussin joined LMCM from Credit Suisse in 2004, where he'd been a managing director and chief U.S. investment strategist. Since joining LMCM, he was responsible for building out the firm's research team and process. There are no plans to replace Mauboussin at this time.

Franklin Income Gets Additional Managers

Franklin Templeton has added Matt Quinlan and Alex Peters as comanagers on Franklin Income FKINX. Lead manager Ed Perks, who recently took on overseeing the firm's growth strategies in addition to guiding its core hybrid team, will remain in place. The moves make sense, as both Quinlan and Peters were already working closely with Perks on versions of the Franklin Income strategy that are geared toward insurance companies and other clients for the firm. Quinlan will remain a comanager on Franklin Convertible Securities FISCX, and Peters will continue to run Franklin's large-cap core growth strategy.

Henderson Alters Manager Lineup

Henderson is tweaking its manager lineup at Henderson International Opportunities HFOAX. The Bronze-rated foreign large-blend strategy includes five sleeves run by separate teams. Michael Wood-Martin, Henderson's director of Japanese equities since 2001 and manager of the fund's Japanese equity sleeve since 2005, stepped down from the fund at the end of December.

The change shouldn't be an enormous one for investors, as Wood-Martin is keeping his job as head of Japanese equities and will likely continue to influence the fund from a distance. The teams managing the fund's four other sleeves, which include global technology, Asia ex-Japan, and European growth and value strategies will also remain in place.

Vincent Musumeci, who joined the firm as part of Henderson's 2011 acquisition of Gartmore, replaced Wood-Martin as manager of the fund's Japanese equity sleeve. Musumeci has spent a decade as an analyst specializing in Japanese and Asian companies, but this is his first stint as a named manager.

Manager Departs at John Hancock Currency Strategies
Ken Ferguson, who has comanaged Neutral-rated JHancock2 Currency Strategies JCUAX since its 2010 inception, retired as of Dec. 31 and is no longer is a portfolio manager of the $1.1 billion fund. The fund is subadvised by First Quadrant. Dori Levanoni, who has been on the fund since its 2010 inception, and Jeppe Ladekarl, who joined the fund in May 2012, remain on the fund as comanagers.

ASTON Fund to Liquidate
ASTON Dynamic Allocation ASENX will liquidate on Jan. 30. Though the fund was launched in early 2008, it only has around $22 million in assets under management. The fund suffered from exceptional poor performance in 2012, ending the calendar year at the bottom of its Morningstar peer group. ASTON Dynamic Allocation is subadvised by Smart Portfolios LLC.

This fund is the latest of a handful of funds that ASTON has liquidated. ASTON/Cardinal Mid Cap Value and ASTON/Neptune International liquidated in October 2012. Despite these liquidations, the firm is in decent health. The firm had positive flows for 2011 and 2012, and its net assets have increased every calendar year since the end of 2008, ending November 2012 with $11 billion in assets under management.

New Names for 2 Legg Mason Funds
Legg Mason Global Currents International All Cap Opportunity and Legg Mason Global Currents International Small Cap Opportunity changed their names to ClearBridge International All Cap Opportunity SBIEX and ClearBridge International Small Cap Opportunity LCOAX on Dec. 5, 2012.

Senior mutual fund analysts David Kathman and Gregg Wolper, mutual fund analysts Michelle Canavan, Shannon Kirwin, Kailin Liu, Kathryn Spica, and Rob Wherry, and ETF analyst Robert Goldsborough contributed to this report.

Morningstar fund analysts cover more than 1,700 mutual funds and write regular commentary covering fund industry news, fund investing trends, picks, portfolio planning, international investing, and more.

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