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Morningstar Awards for Investing Excellence--Rising Talent Nominees

Four managers to keep an eye on.

Today, we reveal the four nominees for the 2020 Morningstar Awards for Investing Excellence--Rising Talent. The winner, alongside the recipients of the Outstanding Portfolio Manager and Exemplary Stewardship awards, will be announced in late June.

To qualify for the Rising Talent Award, candidates must have less than seven years of experience managing public portfolios and have delivered exceptional results during that time. They must run an investment strategy with a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Bronze or higher for at least one vehicle or share class or be featured in Morningstar Prospects, a publication that highlights up-and-coming strategies under consideration for full analyst coverage. Each candidate stands out among emerging managers.

John Dance Fidelity John Dance joined Fidelity in 2006 as a Hong Kong-based analyst covering industrials stocks and quickly rose through the ranks. He became co-leader of the consumer staples and consumer discretionary sector teams before he was named a manager on Fidelity Pacific Basin FPBFX in 2013 and Fidelity Emerging Asia FSEAX in 2017. He steered both strategies to impressive records. In February 2019, he joined Bronze-rated Fidelity Emerging Markets FEMKX, the firm's flagship emerging-markets offering, and took over as the strategy's sole manager in September 2019.

Dance executed his growth-oriented approach well at his previous charges, but he now runs his first diversified emerging-markets strategy. He will have to show that his process is adaptable to a broader mandate after previously focusing on Asia. He is off to an encouraging start. Fidelity Emerging Markets had a superior showing during early 2020's bear market, despite a large underweight in China, which was easily the best-performing emerging market over that time. Investors have plenty of reason to believe that Dance can deliver over the long term.

Wyatt Lee T. Rowe Price Wyatt Lee joined T. Rowe Price's multi-asset division in 2007, and in 2015 he became a manager on the firm's target-date series, whose cheapest shares earn Silver ratings. In September 2019, he took over the lead management role from Jerome Clark, who will be moving into a business role at the firm. While Lee is just beginning his tenure as lead manager, he has already made several positive contributions to this series' approach. In 2016, for example, he helped create allocations to fixed-income subasset classes that improved the series' diversification and gave the team additional levers to pull when making tactical-allocation decisions. More recently, he led a multiyear effort to boost the equity exposure at nearly all points on the series' glide path, making it one of the most equity-heavy around. The team conducted in-depth analysis to support this change, believing the biggest risk that savers face is outliving their assets and that a higher equity allocation is the best solution. Further research into how investors respond to higher volatility and greater drawdown potential left the team confident that investors could weather the added risk. Lee has made his mark on this series and should continue to drive its cutting-edge research agenda in the years to come.

John McClain Diamond Hill John McClain joined Diamond Hill in 2014. He became a comanager on Diamond Hill High Yield DHHAX later that year and in February 2015 became a comanager on Diamond Hill Corporate Credit DSIAX, whose cheapest shares earn a Silver rating. These two strategies, while both long-term and value-oriented, have different mandates and risk profiles, yet McClain has demonstrated a strong ability to execute both approaches. Sharp attention to risk and solid credit selection have helped Diamond Hill Corporate Credit consistently hold up relatively well in downturns, including in late 2018 and early 2020. McClain oversees research in the energy sector, among other sectors, and the strategy also had a strong showing during the energy-led sell-off from June 2015 to February 2016, buoyed by solid relative results from positions in energy firms such as McDermott International MDRIQ and Diamondback Energy FANG. McClain has demonstrated strong credit selection and portfolio management skills, as well as a deep understanding of the market structure, which instills confidence in his abilities.

Mohit Mittal Pimco Mohit Mittal's impressive analytical, quantitative, and leadership skills have helped him ascend the ranks of Pimco's investment organization. Mittal joined Pimco in 2007 and began as a specialist on the firm's interest-rates and derivatives trading desk. He later joined the U.S. investment-grade corporate trading desk, while demonstrating enough skill as a generalist portfolio manager to take on oversight of various diversified bond separate-account portfolios. He became a comanager on several funds in the United States and Europe in 2016, including Silver-rated Pimco Investment Grade Credit Bond PIGIX. At the end of 2019, he became a comanager on Pimco Total Return PTTRX--the firm's flagship strategy under bond legend Bill Gross--whose shares receive Gold or Silver ratings.

In addition to his portfolio management responsibilities, Mittal oversees the firm's U.S. investment-grade, high-yield, and emerging-markets corporate credit portfolio managers, who support more than $200 billion in dedicated credit accounts and execute corporate trades for diversified portfolios. Mittal has been instrumental in establishing processes that make it easier for the corporate portfolio managers to quickly identify and take advantage of opportunities and in ensuring that the trading desks he oversees have access to the same tools and approach the market with a consistent framework. He's had an impact on the team's ability to get down into the details for dedicated credit portfolios as well as to identify large, scalable credit plays for diversified portfolios.

Morningstar analysts Nicholas Goralka, Benjamin Joseph, Miriam Sjoblom, Eric Jacobson, and Bobby Blue contributed to this article.

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