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Fund Times

Fund Times: Fidelity's Neal Miller to Retire

Plus, SEC sent back to drawing board on fund director rules, and more.

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Fidelity announced this week that manager Neal Miller is retiring from the firm. Miller has done an amazing job over the years at  Fidelity New Millennium (FMILX). No replacement has yet been named.

Miller and his fund were unique to Fidelity in many ways. He does trend-change analysis to identify big shifts in the world economy that ought to lift a bunch of stocks. He was early on the impact of the Internet and rising oil prices.

In addition, Fidelity New Millennium stands out because Fidelity closed it at just $1 billion in assets and because Miller was a rare case in which Fidelity hired a manager from outside the firm.

SEC Told to Seek Comment on Board Rules
A U.S. court has ordered the Securities and Exchange Commission to seek more comment on planned rules changes regarding the independence of mutual fund directors. The new rules would require fund boards to name an independent chairman and would mandate at least three quarters of board members to be independent.

The SEC was given 90 days to collect comments on the costs of implementing the rules.

SEC Chooses Merrill Lawyer to Oversee Fund Division
The SEC named Merrill Lynch Investment Managers general counsel Andrew "Buddy" Donohue as its next director of the division of investment management.

"Buddy brings invaluable expertise and three decades of experience with mutual fund regulation to our investor protection mission," said SEC chairman Christopher Cox. "I know that he is committed to promoting effective mutual fund governance, sturdy compliance, and plain English information for mutual fund and ETF purchasers. He will work to get investors more accurate and more timely information through the use of the latest technology."

New Names for Smith Barney Funds
Smith Barney's asset management group has filed to change the names on its funds from Smith Barney to Legg Mason Partners. The move was expected following  Legg Mason's (LM) acquisition of  Citigroup's (C) asset management arm in exchange for Legg Mason's brokerage group.

Zale News Stings Good Fund Managers
Even the best of fund managers make mistakes. That may be the case with all the smart managers who invested in  Zale (ZLC). The jewelry chain operator's stock was clipped when it was revealed that the SEC is investigating the firm. The company said it was a wide-ranging probe that would cover things such as accounting and executive compensation.

Of course, it's too soon to know what if any problems the SEC will uncover, so it's also too soon to know if the investment was a mistake. Nonetheless, the roster of managers with big bets on the company at the end of December is quite impressive. David Carr invested 5% of  Oak Value's (OAKVX) assets in the stock. Scott Satterwhite had positions above 2% in Zale investments in  Artisan Small Cap Value (ARTVX) and  Artisan Mid Cap Value (ARTQX). Bob Rodriguez of  FPA Capital (FPPTX) had about 1.5% in the stock.

Bausch & Lomb Takes Toll on Funds
Meanwhile,  Bausch & Lomb (BOL), though owned by a less illustrious group, is taking a big bite out of the mutual funds that own it. The FDA has warned that the company's ReNu MoistureLoc contact lens solution may be causing severe eye infections. Bausch & Lomb has voluntarily agreed to suspend shipments.

The company's stock was off about 15% on Tuesday, and that's bad news for big fans like Schwab Health Care (SWHFX) and Everest America (EVAMX).

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