Jan 18 2010

Mutual Fund Monday: Morningstar Announces their Choice for Fund Managers of the Decade.

These managers were chosen by Morningstar as the best of the decade because the “deftly steered investors through good times and bad“.

That’s saying something. Investing in the ’80’s and 90’s was pretty clear cut, but the 1st decade of the 21st century was anything but easy.

As with the best Fund Managers of 2009 award, the Best Manager of the Decade award is not just about overall returns, but rather the risks assumed by the manager to get those returns, as well as their stewardship of the funds.

Size is also a consideration, since it’s more meaningful (and challenging) to earn big returns with a large asset pool, than a small one.

Fixed Income

Bill Gross
PIMCO Total Return: 7.7%; Category Average: 5.5%

The winner for the Fixed Income category is legendary investor Bill Gross. As Morningstar puts it: “No other fund manager made more money for people than Bill Gross.”

The PIMCO Total Return Fund was $32 billion large at the start of the decade, but Gross didn’t let that hinder him. By the end of the decade, the fund held over $200 billion in assets but Gross was still able to outsmart the market and is still doing so today.

Domestic Equity

Bruce Berkowitz
Fairholme: 13.2%; Category Average: 0.01%

Winner of the Domestic Equity category is Bruce Berkowitz, who was a practical unknown when he started the Fairholme (FAIRX) fund in December of 1999. Back then, technology and telecom growth funds were the “new economy” and the thought of starting a value fund was laughable. That didn’t stop Berkowitz. His ability to stick to his value oriented philosophy has earned him not just great returns over the past decade, but the award for Best Domestic Equity Fund manager of the decade.

Foreign Equity

David Herro
Oakmark International: 8.2%; Category Average: 3.2%
Oakmark International Small Cap: 10.1%; Category Average: 6.1%

David Herro is not only an eclectic contrarian, he’s also been right more often than not over the past decade, or at least right when it counts. He’s another value investor (notice a theme here? ;-) ), but he focuses on only 50-60 stocks, and isn’t afraid to dive in when others flee – provided he sees value selling at a bargain.

His relatively small number of holdings mean his funds don’t also track the relevant benchmarks and peers, but that’s not always a bad thing. It can however, mean some additional risk and his funds have had poor performance in some years, but have always bounced back quite well.

Read more at Morningstar.

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