Even Morningstar is thinking out of the style box.

At a time when asset managers are increasingly questioning modern portfolio theory and static Morningstar style boxes, the Chicago research giant has announced its new “Analyst Ratings” to augment its 1- to 5-star ratings.

Beginning Tuesday, Morningstar will publish ratings on 300 mutual funds and bring that up to 1,500 funds, or 75% of total industry assets, by the end of 2012.

Unlike the star ratings, which are based on quantitative measures and how well a fund does against its peers and benchmark, its consistency and its risk, the analyst ratings will measure a fund’s performance prospects over the coming five years.

The ratings will range from gold, silver and bronze, to neutral or negative. The analysts will rate funds based on five measures. While the measures are found in other Morningstar methodologies, the combination is somewhat unique:

1)    People, or the quality of the investment team.

2)    Process, or its portfolio construction methodology.

3)    Parent, or the strength and record of shareholder responsibility of the investment advisor.

4)    Performance, or the fund’s relative strength and consistency of returns.

5)    Price, or fees.


Morningstar said that its analysts will periodically review funds to see if any updates are needed, as well as how well its highly or lowly rated funds actually perform against its analysts’ expectations.

-- This article first appeared on Money Management Executive.