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Despite a Downgrade, This Foreign Fund Remains a Fine Pick

Leo Acheson, CFA

Leo Acheson: This week's [Morningstar] Medalist is MainStay ICAP International. This fund recently experienced some management changes, but it still remains a fine pick. Longtime comanager Tom Wenzel recently stepped down from his managerial responsibilities. He remains with the firm but in a reduced capacity and no longer as a portfolio manager on the fund. When he stepped down, the firm elevated two of its longtime analysts, Andy Starr and Matt Swanson, as portfolio managers. They joined Jerry Senser, a longtime manager on the fund who has taken the lead since mid-2007 and Tom Cole, who joined from ICAP in 2012. Those four managers receive support from 13 global-sector analysts. The analyst team has experienced some turnover as of late over the past four years. Given that turnover along with some of the recent manager changes, the fund lost its [Morningstar Analyst Rating of] Silver, but it still earns Bronze rating.

The managers tend to emphasize giant-cap companies within the international space, and they also tend to tread very lightly in emerging markets. That has helped the fund hold up well during market downturns, such as 2008 and 2011, and it has also managed to keep pace in strong rallies like 2009 and 2013.

So far this year, the fund has underperformed its category. It has held overweight positions in the Netherlands and Germany, and its limited exposure to emerging markets has been a headwind to performance versus peers. But MainStay ICAP International still remains a solid choice to get international exposure for a reasonable price.