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A Downturn-Tested Foreign-Stock Fund

Jason Stipp

Greg Carlson: The Morningstar Medalist this week is Morgan Stanley Institutional International Equity (MSIQX). The fund is an institutional fund with a high investment minimum; however, it is available in quite a few retirement plans to regular investors.

The fund has lost three of its four most experienced portfolio managers over the last couple of years; however, we still have a lot of confidence in the fund. Those departures were generally planned well in advance, and the team that remains is quite experienced and capable. The team leader has been on fund since 1999.

The team invests in companies that have fairly stable revenue streams and balance sheets yet are selling cheaply relative to the manager's estimate of their value. Therefore, the fund tends to hold up better in downturns and choppy markets while lagging in strong rallies.

Over the whole of the team leader's tenure since 1999, the fund has generated excellent risk-adjusted results. It has done the same since stocks' October 2007 peak. So, the recent record is just as impressive as the longer-term record. It's beaten over 90% of its peers over both periods.

The fund had an off year in 2014. A couple of its energy holdings were hit hard in the latter part of the year; however, we still have a lot of confidence in this team. So, it should serve as a nice core holding for investors looking for non-U.S. exposure. It earns a Bronze Analyst Rating.