Longtime Vanguard investors> are well aware of the company s PrimeCap fund. This offering, subadvised by a Pasadena, Calif.-based money-management firm of the same name, has returned an average annual 13.3% since its inception in 1984. This year, the fund has soared to a 32% increase as the growth stocks it favors have surged. That performance puts it out in front of the S&P 500 by seven percentage points.
But investors who check out this fund will inevitably be disappointed. The $26 billion offering is currently closed to new investors. However, there is a back door to gain access to PrimeCap managers. The company offers three proprietary funds that follow the same strategy as the Vanguard ones. PrimeCap Odyssey Growth, which just celebrated its fifth birthday, has returned 4.1% annually since it started trading. During that time, the S&P has been almost flat.
PrimeCap Odyssey Growth made the cut this week for a screen we did on multicap funds. Multicaps invest up and down the market cap spectrum, instead of focusing on one corner of the market. We started with a universe of 1,645 funds and share classes. We weeded out the ones that charged sales loads and featured poor track records over the trailing three- and five-year time periods. That left us with the 23 funds listed on the table below.
Because multicap funds aren t easily categorized, they sometimes fall under investors radar. Yacktman is a $1.3 billion fund based in Austin, Texas. It has returned an average annual 12.4% over the last decade, putting it in the top spot of Morningstar s large value category. And that's where the classification problem occurs. Yacktman has 62% of its assets in megacap stocks, 23% in large stocks and around 15% in mid- and small-company stocks. It may look like a large-cap fund to Morningstar, but to other investors, that distinction isn t that cut and dried.
There are both pros and cons to that kind of diversity. On one hand, multicap managers are free to hunt for bargains wherever they please. That flexibility can come in handy when parts of the stock market are trailing others. They can get out of the way. If a manager is forced to invest only in small company stocks or growth ones, he or she may hit a rough patch when those sectors experience a downturn.
On the other hand, multicap managers aren t immune from making bad stock picks. What s more, some advisors shy away from using them because they prefer to manage their sector exposure by picking individual small, mid- and large-cap funds. And if a part of the stock market does take off, multicap funds may not wholly benefit from that increase because they have only a portion of their assets in that area.
Click here and here The average small-cap fund is up 26.8% this year, according to Morningstar, while the average midcap has gained 32.9%. The S&P 500 is up 24.9% in 2009. They have also benefitted from an uptick in growth stocks, an indication investors are willing to take on a little more risk after last year's unprecedented financial collapse.
Besides the PrimeCap and Yacktman funds, Becker Value Equity, Janus Orion, Westport, Amana Growth and Croft Value have made other screens over the last year.
The criteria: The funds on our table are classified as multicaps by Lipper. They are open to new money, require a minimum investment under $5,000 and charge an annual expense ratio less than 1.5%. In addition, they're up at least 24% in 2009 the current year-to-date return of the S&P 500 and have track records during the trailing three- and five-year time periods that put them in the top 25% of their groups. As usual, we did not include load funds.
Note: Data as of Dec. 10, 2009
|Baron iOppty Fd;Rtl||BIOPX||148||56.6||0.2||5.0||1.4|
|Becker Value Equity||BVEFX||85||24.7||-3.4||3.3||1.0|
Fund Type = Multicaps
Annualized 3-Year Return (%) = Display Only
Rank in Classification (%) (3 year performance) <= 25
Annualized 5-Year Return (%) = Display Only
Rank in Classification (%) (5 year performance) <= 25
Expense Ratio <= 1.5%
Load Fund (type) = No Load
Minimum Initial Investment <= $5,000
Open to New Investors = Yes
Total Net Assets ($ millions) >= 50
Year-to-Date Return (%) >= 24%