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Fund Times

Fund Times: Oppenheimer to Close Real Asset Fund

Plus, Vanguard Morgan Growth manager retires, and more.

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 Oppenheimer Real Asset (QRAAX) will close to new investments on April 28, 2006. Even current shareholders will be disallowed to invest additional sums, with the exception of reinvesting dividends and distributions. The fund has about $1.9 billion in assets.

The move is an interesting one as it's pretty rare to see a fund close to existing investors, and usually the ones that do so are micro-cap funds. This fund invests in structured notes that are linked to commodity prices.

Vanguard Morgan Manager to Retire
Vanguard announced that  Vanguard Morgan Growth (VMRGX) manager Robert D. Rands will retire at the end of the year. Rands is a senior vice president at Wellington Management Company, LLP, which provides investment advisory services for one third of the $6.4 billion fund.

Paul E. Marrkand, who has served as comanager of Wellington's portion of the fund since 2005, will assume Rands' responsibilities.

Leuthold Launches Two to Replace Two that Closed
Shortly after closing two funds to new and existing shareholders, Leuthold has filed plans to launch two new funds that have similar objectives. The Leuthold Asset Allocation Fund, like now-closed  Leuthold Core Investment (LCORX), will hold both long and short positions in stocks and fixed-income securities, while Leuthold Select Equities will be an all-cap equity fund, similar to Leuthold Select Industries (LSLTX).

However, Select Equities, which will mirror the domestic-equity portion of Asset Allocation, will use a quantitative, bottom-up stock-selection process, while Core Investment and Select Industries rely more on top-down industry calls; Leuthold reports that overlap between the two strategies is minimal.

AIM Gets Trendy
In the wake of the bear market and industrywide scandals most fund companies had embraced a more sober approach to fund launches, but we're starting to see that resolve weaken. Witness AIM's launch of seven funds, three of which target hot overseas markets.

The firm is launching funds that invest in China, Japan, and foreign bonds. In addition, it is launching four less trendy funds: AIM Structured Core, AIM Structured Growth, AIM Structured Value, and AIM Enhanced Short Bond.

Franklin Templeton, Too
Speaking of trendy, Franklin Templeton has filed with the SEC to launch a BRICs fund. BRICs stands for Brazil, Russia, India, and China, and it's a popular theme for investors chasing emerging-market riches. The basic premise is that these four countries' economies will become dominant players in global economy.

Mark Mobius and Tom Wu are listed as managers of the Templeton BRIC Fund which will charge a steep 2.44% on its A shares.

Fidelity Closing Contrafund
Fidelity Investments said Friday it is closing  Fidelity Contrafund (FCNTX) and  Fidelity Advisor New Insights (FNIAX) to new accounts at the close of business on April 28, 2006.

The news is quite welcome, as Morningstar has been calling for a long time for Fidelity to close the funds. Manager Will Danoff has done an outstanding job at the funds, but he is currently running more than $70 billion. That huge sum will make it challenging for him to match his past success.

It's also worth noting that this move won't exactly staunch the flow of assets entering the funds. Contrafund is held in millions of accounts and 401(k) plans, and shareholders of both funds will be able to keep sending in new money after the closing date. In fact,  Fidelity Low-Priced Stock (FLPSX) has continued to grow after closing at the end of 2003.

Philip L. Bullen, chief investment officer overseeing the U.S. large-cap core and capital-appreciation groups for Fidelity Management & Research Company, said, "Investor inflows into the two funds have accelerated--together they have taken in more than $12 billion in net new cash in the 12 months ending February 28, 2006, and assets have continued to grow. We believe that closing Contrafund and Advisor New Insights at this time is in the best interests of the funds' shareholders, and stabilizing cash flows will help provide Will with the opportunity to maintain the funds' consistent performance track records."

Fidelity also said that Jason Weiner has been appointed associate portfolio manager of VIP Contrafund Portfolio. "In this role, Weiner will work closely with portfolio manager Will Danoff in providing additional investment ideas for the fund," Fidelity said in a press release. Weiner will continue to manage  Fidelity Independence (FDFFX),  Fidelity Fifty (FFTYX), and  Fidelity Advisor Fifty (FFYAX).

Russel Kinnel does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.