Tuesday, January 21, 2003

THE NAME GAME: Fascinating piece on Jim Glassman's Tech Central Station about the oddly strong performance of mutual funds which have their managers' names in their titles. (On average, they perform better than index funds.)

What's going on here? First, it's clear that managers count and, as Barry (Glassman) puts it, these particular managers "have a vested interest in applying prudence and principles" because their names are on the door. Not just the family reputation, but the family money, is at stake. The Davis family, for example, is the largest shareholder in each of its nine funds, with a total of $2.5 billion invested.

Also, since they know they aren't likely to be fired for poor short-term performance, the namesake managers can take the long view, rather than frantically trading the way most managers do. Namesakes hold the average stock for about 21/2 years - for a turnover ratio of just 41 percent, one-third lower than the average fund among the 500 largest. Seven of the namesakes have turnover ratios below 20 percent.

As Jim points out, there's still no substitute for performing due diligence before investing, but the notion behind why these funds would tend to perform well makes sense.

BTW, people confuse me with that baseball player all the time (and I also bat right, throw left) ... but once anybody sees or hears me, then the party's over.

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