If, in your life, you have owned the White Oak Growth Stock, Weitz Hickory or Fidelity Aggressive Growth funds, you understand the teeter tottering feelings of elation and dismay. As Morningstars director of fund analysis Kunal Kapoor said in a recent Fund Spy column, figuring out whether any of these funds will return to prominence takes a lot more than looking at just past performance.
White Oak Growth, advised by Oak Associates , gained beautifully through the 1990s thanks to a trunk full of high-priced stocks. But the bear market saw White Oak as a barrel full of honey, and chewed on it like a tobacco-addicted baseball player. Despite a comeback in 2003, Kapoor said White Oak Growth "is just too risky" and "tough to fit into a portfolio."
Weitz Hickory did well in the late 1990s despite other telecom funds decline. But it has struggled since, to the tune of former manager Rick Lawson leaving. The founder of the Weitz Funds, Wally Weitz, is now at the helm, and while Kapoor thinks Weitz workload may be a bit "overstretched," he has confidence as long as the fund stays small.
Fidelity Aggressive Growth suffered steep declines in 2000, 2001 and 2002: minus 27%, 47% and 41%, respectively. All was well as Erin Sullivan led the fund in 2000, but when she grew the fund up to $15 billion, she decided to leave for a hedge fund. The fund imploded, but late in 2002, Rajiv Kaul took the helm and seems to be rekindling it. Kapoor says hes "encouraged," but would not recommend the fund as of yet. He said Fidelity has "better options available."