MarketWatch recently profiled five promising mutual fund managers who have been at their jobs for roughly one year.
The five managers, who were assessed on their first-year performance on the job, based on Morningstar data, had little or no prior experience managing a fund. "I'm more interested in a new fund manager's background and the firm's past record of bringing people on board than I am in the return they produce," said Russel Kinnel, Morningstar's director of mutual fund research.
Minyoung Sohn, who started managing Janus' Growth and Income fund recently, made the top-five freshmen list because of his shifting of the portfolio into large-cap growth stocks. He has also added technology and energy stocks and cautiously moved away from financial-services and media companies. The result: the no-load fund returned a 9.8% gain in the 12 months through February, better than 96% of its investment peers, according to Morningstar. Sohn says that in addition to using cash-flow and balance-sheet analysis, he also looks at things like product development, manufacturing and distribution and invests in companies with strength in one or more of these areas.
Kevin Quinton has been managing Fidelity's Tax-Managed Stock fund for about a year now and has helped it post an 11.9% gain for the 12 months through February 28, making it beat 95% of funds in Morningstar's large-blend category. Quinton combines computer-driven stock selection with in-house fundamental analysis. "The mathematical model is backward looking; research is forward looking," he says. "Bring those two views together and when they match up, it tends to be a good place to invest."
Jill Evans came to manage the Alpine Dynamic Dividend fund from J.P. Morgan, where she was a stock analyst. The mid-cap value portfolio has returned an 18.1% gain over the year ended Feb. 28 under her watch, ranking it in the top 15% of its class. Currently, Evans is focusing on stocks outside of the U.S. for her $121 million no-load portfolio.
Over the trailing 12 months through Feb. 28, the Armada Mid Cap Value fund has seen its Class A shares gain 19.5%, ranking it in the top 9% of its category, thanks to its new manager, Michael Santelli. Now, Santelli has set his sights on the energy and insurance sector for his $57 million portfolio.
London-based Barnaby Wiener has taken the $259 million MFS International Value fund's Class A shares 26% higher over the 12 months through February, beating 95% of its foreign large-value peers. "I probably have a slightly more contrarian style," he says. "I'm attracted to companies that are temporarily out of favor for reasons I believe are cyclical rather than structural."