These Funds March to Their Own Drummers

02/11/2014 9:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Walter Frank

CIO, MONEYLETTER

Here's a look at two mutual funds added to the model portfolio at MoneyLetter; fund experts Walter Frank and Cynthia Andrade explain, each of these funds marches to its own drummer and do not "hug" any specific index.

Baron Partners (US:BPTRX), headed up by firm founder Ron Baron, is a non-diversified fund, focusing on the best ideas generated within the fund family. It has about 80% of assets in mid-cap stocks and only 26 holdings.

The fund targets businesses that can double in size within four or five years, have competitive advantages that create barriers to entry, have stable demand for their products and services, and are well managed.

The fund's heaviest sector weightings are in consumer discretionary, industrials, financials, and healthcare. Its top holdings are specialty insurance firm Arch Capital Group, electric transmission firm ITC Holdings, and Hyatt Hotels.

The annual portfolio turnover rate of 15.75% implies an average holding period of about six years. In 2012 and 2013, the fund landed in the top quarter and 98% of its category, respectively, last year sporting a 47.6% gain.

Fidelity Focused Stock (US:FTQGX), another concentrated fund, typically invests in 30 to 80 stocks (currently 50), and has 43% of assets in the top ten holdings.

This is a decidedly large-cap fund, with nearly 90% of assets so invested. Manager Stephen DuFour is free to invest in both value and growth stocks, but really seeks out stocks that offer growth at a reasonable price—companies that will grow earnings materially faster than the market.

DuFour's investment process is driven by bottom-up fundamental research. He looks for quality—strong balance sheet with high cash and little debt, low stock price volatility, high return on invested capital and strong free cash flow.

He further emphasizes firms that have maintained strong earnings during difficult economic times.

Information technology was recently the top portfolio sector at 23% of assets, followed by healthcare and financials. In 2012 and 2013, the fund outperformed 66% and 85% of the large growth category, respectively.

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