Morningstar has announced its three Fund Managers of the Year for domestic stock, international stock and fixed income.
Bruce Berkowitz, manager of the Fairholme Fund, is Domestic Stock Fund Manager of 2009. The team at American Funds EuroPacific Growth Fund was named International Stock Fund Manager of 2009, and Fixed Income Fund Manager of 2009 goes to the team at Loomis Sayles Bond Fund.
“Stock and bond markets posted spectacular gains in 2009, but investors remain subdued, with portfolios still marred by the global financial crisis that began in 2007,” said Morningstar Director of Fund Analysis Karen Dolan. “The winning managers deftly steered their funds throughout the tumultuous environment and emerged strong in 2009’s rally.”
Morningstar selected the three winners for their “exceptional stewardship of capital” over the long term, Dolan added, taking both the very difficult 2008 and last year into account.
Berkowitz revamped his portfolio in 2008 by selling high-flying energy stocks and picking up out-of-favor pharmaceutical and defense companies. His fund gained 39% in 2009, placing it in the top 9% of its large-blend peer group. Since its inception in December 1999, the fund has more than tripled, while the market declined 10% in that period.
“Bruce Berkowitz continues to impress in good markets and in bad. While 2009 is a great achievement for the fund, it is all the more impressive when you consider the attractive returns he’s put up year after year in a variety of environments,” Dolan said.
The American Funds EuroPacific Growth Fund also rose 39% in 2009, putting it in the top 15% of its peers. Driving this growth were timely and gutsy bets on emerging markets, financials and cash. The eight-person management team includes: Stephen Bepler, Mark Denning, Nicholas Grace, Carl Kawaja, Jonathan Knowles, Sung Lee, Robert Lovelace and Jesper Lyckeus. Morningstar also noted the firm’s very low 80-basis-point expense ratio, compared with the 1.52% international stock fund average.
The Loomis Sayles Bond Fund, a deep value, go-anywhere fund managed by Dan Fuss, Kathleen Gaffney, Matthew Eagan and Elaine Stokes, delivered 37% in 2009 and has risen an average of 8.3% a year since 1997. This is the second time Fuss has received the award for this category, having taken home the honor in 1995.
Morningstar noted that all of the managers have more than $100,000 of their own money invested in the fund; Fuss has more than $1 million at stake.