Fidelity Investments is shaking up its stable of portfolio managers who delivered disappointing returns in 2008, The Wall Street Journal reports. In recent weeks, one manager has left the company, two were demoted to analyst and Fidelity is currently trying to reassign two others.

Fidelity is not known for taking such drastic measures, said analysts, some of whom welcomed the actions. “One of our criticisms in the past was that they were too slow to make portfolio manager changes, but Fidelity does seem to have stepped up the pace of that,” said John Bonnanzio, editor of Fidelity Insight.

Added Morningstar Analyst Christopher Davis: “The message is being sent loud and clear that if you have a cruddy year, you’re out.”

The portfolio manager who left “to pursue other professional opportunities” is Richard Manuel, who ran the Fidelity Select Financial Services Fund (down 54% over the past year) and the Fidelity Select Home Finance Fund (down 66%).

One portfolio manager who was demoted to analyst is Patrick Venanzi, whose Fidelity Mid Cap Growth Fund declined 44% in the past year through Feb. 5.

Others who are gone include Robert Chow, previously manager of the Fidelity Equity Income II Fund, down 42% over the past year; John Porter, previously of the Fidelity Advisor Growth Opportunities Fund, down 46%; and Brent Bottamini, formerly of the Fidelity Latin America Fund, down 48%.

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