CHICAGO, Jan. 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Morningstar, Inc. (NASDAQ: MORN), a leading provider of independent investment research, today announced its 2015 U.S. Fund Manager of the Year award winners. The awards, to be featured on CNBC's "Power Lunch" program today, acknowledge managers who delivered impressive performance in 2015, have shown excellent long-term risk-adjusted returns, and have exhibited tremendous skill in their field. This is the 29th year Morningstar has presented its Fund Manager of the Year awards.
To recognize outstanding fund managers, Morningstar selects leaders in five categories: domestic stock, international stock, fixed income, allocation, and alternatives. The 2015 Fund Manager of the Year award winners in the United States are:
Domestic-Stock Fund Manager of the Year: Keith Lee, Robert Hall, Kempton Ingersol, Damien Davis, and Andrew Fones, Brown Capital Management Small Company (BCSIX)
Keith Lee and Robert Hall have led Brown Capital Management Small Company since the fund's inception in 1992. The fund has a Morningstar Analyst Rating™ of Gold, the company's highest Medalist rating. The team employs a unique and patient strategy, buying companies that earn $250 million or less in revenue at the time of initial investment and "save lives, time, money, or headaches." In 2015, the top 10 contributors to performance have been in the portfolio for an average of nine years.
"We have had high regard for the team at Brown Capital Management for a long time. Since we launched the Morningstar Analyst Rating in 2011, the fund has carried a Gold rating," Jon Hale, Morningstar's director of manager research, North America, said. "In a year when stocks struggled to stay positive, the fund gained 8.8 percent in 2015, while its typical small-growth fund peer lost 2.4 percent. The fund ranked in the top percentile over the trailing one-, three-, five-, and 10-year periods."
International-Stock Fund Manager of the Year: Robert Lovelace and team, American Funds New Perspective (ANWPX)
American Funds New Perspective has a Gold Analyst Rating and Positive scores for all five pillars of the Analyst Rating—Process, Performance, People, Parent, and Price. At $60 billion in assets, the fund is the second largest in the world-stock category, and its 5.3 percent gain in 2015 beat the MSCI All Country World Index by 7.7 percentage points, landing in the category's top decile. The fund has also placed in its peer group's top half in each of the past 10 calendar years. Robert Lovelace, who has been on the fund for 15 years and is its longest-tenured manager, serves as the fund's principal investment officer.
"The team's strong stock selection has continually led performance at this fund. The top three holdings in 2015—Novo Nordisk, Amazon.com, and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals—were up 40 percent, 118 percent, and 32 percent, respectively, last year," Hale said. "We also consider American Funds as a model steward of investor assets. Each manager has at least $100,000 in the fund, and three managers invest more than $1 million. The fund is also one of the least expensive options in its category."
Fixed-Income Fund Manager of the Year: Jerome Schneider and team, PIMCO Short-Term (PTSHX)
Jerome Schneider has led the team at PIMCO Short-Term since 2010 and also contributes to the management of other funds across PIMCO. He makes high-conviction purchases and follows a careful approach, focusing on liquidity and minimizing risk. The fund, which has a Silver Analyst Rating, gained 1.4 percent in 2015, placing in the best percentile of the ultrashort-term bond category. For the trailing one-, three-, and five-year periods, the fund's total return has landed in the top quartile of the category.
"In a year when short-term interest rates rose sharply and many bond funds failed to earn a positive return, performance at PIMCO Short-Term stands out. Schneider actively adjusted the fund's yield curve positioning and rate sensitivity over the course of the year, which contributed a healthy portion of its returns," Hale said. "He leads a robust, stable team at PIMCO, which has effectively steered the fund away from troubles in the ultrashort category."
Allocation Fund Manager of the Year: John Keogh and Michael Reckmeyer, Vanguard Wellesley Income (VWINX)
In the 45 years of Vanguard Wellesley Income's existence, the fund has lost money in only six years. John Keogh and Michael Reckmeyer have jointly led the fund, which is sub-advised by Wellington Management, since July 2008. Under their leadership, the fund has gained an annualized 7.7 percent through 2015, placing second out of 140 conservative allocation category peers. In 2015, the fund gained 1.3 percent, which is double the return of its customized benchmark, landing in the top percentile of its category. The fund has a Gold Analyst Rating and Positive scores for all five pillars.
"Lower-than-average volatility, combined with a balanced approach to providing income, capital appreciation, and downside protection, has provided the fund with a stellar record," Hale said. "The fund is one of the least expensive offerings in its category. Keogh and Reckmeyer have been at Wellington for more than 50 years combined and have a proven, consistent process."
Alternatives Fund Manager of the Year: James Troyer, Michael Roach, and James Stetler, Vanguard Market Neutral (VMNIX)
This is the second consecutive nomination for the team at Vanguard Market Neutral. The fund has a Silver Analyst Rating and Positive scores for all five pillars. Since Vanguard obtained full management of the fund in 2010, it has consistently been one of the top performers in the category with total returns of 6.2 percent in the trailing three-year period and 5.0 percent in the trailing five-year period. The fund placed in the top decile of the category in both periods.
"The team at Vanguard Market Neutral follows a consistent and transparent approach," Hale said. "In 2015, they proved that investors don't have to pay excessive fees for robust returns that aren't highly correlated to the market. The fund has the lowest expense ratio of any alternative fund and gained 7 percent in the third quarter of 2015 while the S&P 500 fell 6.4 percent and the market neutral category was flat."
For Morningstar's article about the winners, please visit http://www.morningstar.com/goto/fmoy2015.
Established in 1988, the Morningstar Fund Manager of the Year award recognizes portfolio managers who demonstrate excellent investment skill and the courage to differ from the consensus to benefit investors. The Fund Manager of the Year award winners are chosen based on Morningstar's proprietary research and in-depth qualitative evaluation by its manager research analysts. To qualify for the award, managers' funds must have not only posted impressive returns for the year, but the managers also must have a record of delivering outstanding long-term risk-adjusted performance and of aligning their interests with shareholders'. Nominated funds must be Morningstar Medalists—a fund that has garnered a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Gold, Silver, or Bronze. For more information about the Morningstar Awards, please visit http://awards.morningstar.com.
About Morningstar, Inc. Morningstar, Inc. is a leading provider of independent investment research in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The company offers an extensive line of products and services for individual investors, financial advisors, asset managers, and retirement plan providers and sponsors. Morningstar provides data on more than 500,000 investment offerings, including stocks, mutual funds, and similar vehicles, along with real-time global market data on more than 17 million equities, indexes, futures, options, commodities, and precious metals, in addition to foreign exchange and Treasury markets. Morningstar also offers investment management services through its investment advisory subsidiaries, with more than $170 billion in assets under advisement and management as of Sept. 30, 2015. The company has operations in 27 countries.
Analyst Ratings are subjective in nature and should not be used as the sole basis for investment decisions. Analyst Ratings are based on Morningstar analysts' current expectations about future events and therefore involve unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause Morningstar's expectations not to occur or to differ significantly from what was expected. Morningstar does not represent its Analyst Ratings to be guarantees nor should they be viewed as an assessment of a fund's or the fund's underlying securities' creditworthiness. This press release is for informational purposes only; it should not be considered an offer or solicitation to buy or sell the mutual funds noted within.
All figures are as of Dec. 31, 2015 unless otherwise noted.
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