Frederick R. Kobrick is hoping that a name change for his one-year-old growth oriented fund group will eliminate a potential drag on its success.
The Kobrick-Cendant Funds has dropped Cendant from the no-load fund group's name. The move should make it easier for Kobrick to promote the investment performance of the renamed Kobrick Emerging Growth and Kobrick Capital funds, among the top performers in their investment categories last year.
Kobrick said that the name change will create a stronger brand identity for the funds and eliminate investors' uncertainty over whether Cendant Corp., the conglomerate now mired in allegations of illegal accounting practices, plays a part in the funds' operation.
"We are clearing up the customer confusion regarding Cendant's role," Kobrick said in a statement. "Cendant is a passive investor, but continues to provide a marketing channel" through which the Kobrick Funds intend to distribute products.
Kobrick disclosed the name change in an SEC filing Dec. 29. Cendant has an option to take a majority stake in the advisory firm, according to the funds' prospectus. Officials from Kobrick were not available for comment.
Kobrick, formerly a portfolio manager for State Street Research & Management Company, formed the fund group with Cendant in October, 1997. Emerging Growth and Capital were introduced in January, 1998. In September, Kobrick added a growth fund. The firm also manages a hedge fund.
After one year of operation, the Emerging Growth and Capital funds now have strong investment performance records to promote. Emerging Growth had a total return of 39.5 percent last year. The fund was among the top one percent in the small growth category for the year, according to Morningstar. Kobrick Capital, which ranked in the top four percent among mid-cap growth funds, had a 50 percent return, according to Morningstar. Through Nov. 30, Emerging Growth had approximately $24 million in assets, while Kobrick Capital had approximately $34 million.
Jeff McConnell, an analyst with Morningstar, said Kobrick's funds have performed well this year. McConnell, who followed Kobrick's Emerging Growth fund, said Kobrick has invested more aggressively with his own fund than he did while at State Street Research.
Kobrick's funds fared better than Cendant. The franchise and direct marketing conglomerate based in Parsippany, N.J. restated earnings last year after it revealed apparent accounting irregularities in April. By September, more than 60 class action lawsuits had been filed against Cendant and its officials arising from the accounting troubles.