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Fund Times

Fund Times: Oak Value Loses Manager, Artisan Adds One

Plus, falling dollar boosts foreign funds, bad funds get merged away, and more.

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 Oak Value (OAKVX) comanager Matthew Sauer has resigned, Value Capital Management announced May 9. Sauer was named comanager in 2003. The fund's other two comanagers, David Carr and Larry Coats, remain at the helm.

In recent years the fund's performance has been hurt by its sector biases. The fund has a huge weighting in media stocks and nothing in energy. As a result, the fund's trailing three-year returns lag 90% of its large-blend peers.

Falling Dollar a Short-Term Boon for Foreign Funds
Foreign-stock funds that don't hedge their currency exposures have gained considerably more than the markets they invest in due to the dollar's steep fall. The dollar has been hurt by the rising current account gap and speculation that the Fed is nearly done hiking interest rates.

Most foreign-stock funds have double-digit gains for the year to date, with foreign small/mid-growth funds leading the way with returns of 19.25% on average. Among diversified funds,  AIM International Small Company (IEGAX) leads the way with a gain of nearly 29%.

The few funds that fully hedge their currency exposure have been well behind the pack, however.  Tweedy, Browne Global Value (TBGVX) has a modest 8.52% gain for the year to date.  Longleaf Partners International (LLINX) is up just 6.5%.

Another Pan Bites the Dust
Phoenix funds is killing off one of our least favorite funds. Phoenix Balanced Return (PABRX) will be merged into  Phoenix Balanced (PHBLX) around May 19, according to SEC filings. The move represents an upgrade from a bad fund to a mediocre fund.

Phoenix Balanced Return charges a steep 1.64% and its trailing five-year returns are in the bottom 5% of the moderate-allocation category. Phoenix Balanced charges a more reasonable 1.05%, and its five-year returns are just below the category average.

In 2005, the trio running Phoenix Balanced took over Phoenix Balanced Return, so the portfolio changes should be modest.

Dreman Fund to be Swept under Rug
The poor-performing  DWS Dreman Financial Services (KDFAX) is being merged into the better-performing  DWS Dreman High Return Equity (KDHAX). Big bets on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have caused the Financial Services fund to lag badly. In addition, the Financial Services fund's focus on large caps hurt it at a time when other financials funds profited from strong small- and mid-cap holdings. The merger is subject to shareholder approval in October.

Third Manager Added to Artisan Funds
Artisan announced that George Sertl became comanager of  Artisan Mid Cap Value (ARTQX) and  Artisan Small Cap Value (ARTVX) as of May 15. Sertl joins James C. Kieffer and Scott C. Satterwhite. Sertl is also a comanager of Artisan Opportunistic Value (ARTLX).

Sertl has served as an analyst for the two funds since January 2000.

Evergreen Funds to Merge
On Monday, Evergreen Investments said that mid-growth  Evergreen Aggressive Growth (EAGAX) will merge into the large-growth  Evergreen Omega (EKOAX). If shareholders approve the merger, it will take place around Aug. 25, 2006.

The change comes in the wake of the retirements of portfolio managers Maureen Cullinane and J. Gary Craven.

The combined fund will be managed by Aziz Hamzaogullari. Hamzaogullari will also take the helm at  Evergreen Large Company Growth (EKJAX). Donald Bisson will succeed Craven and will assume overall portfolio management for  Evergreen Mid Cap Growth (EKAAX).

Julius Baer Launches Four New U.S. Stock Funds
Best known for its international funds, Julius Baer has filed to launch four new domestic funds. The funds will be managed by Samuel Dedio, who joins Baer from Deutsche Asset Management. Dedio will manage Julius Baer U.S. Micro Cap, Julius Baer Small Cap, and Julius Baer Mid Cap. In addition, he will comanage Julius Baer Multi-Cap with Brett Gallagher, who also comanages Julius Baer Global Equity (BJGQX).

Glassman Leaving SEC
SEC commissioner Cynthia Glassman said she plans to leave the commission after her term expires June 5, 2006. Glassman has been critical of the SEC's efforts to require that mutual fund boards have at least 75% of their directors be independent, including the chairman.

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