This Fund Outshines the S&P

06/03/2013 6:30 am EST

Focus: FUNDS

Russel Kinnel

Editor, Morningstar FundInvestor

Investors looking for diversification among large-cap stocks would find little to quibble about in this fund, says Russel Kinnel of Morningstar FundInvestor.

It's tough not to have confidence in FMI Large Cap (FMIHX). Lead manager Pat English and his team look for strong and durable businesses trading at reasonable valuations. With that comes a contrarian mindset. They look to buy stocks whose prices are suffering and sell into strength.

The managers run a concentrated portfolio of 29 stocks, keeping a watch list of attractive companies they can buy when their prices dip. They're also patient investors, targeting a holding period of one to five years. A few of the fund's holdings have been in the portfolio for close to a decade.

The fund's concentrated nature means it courts more issuer-specific risk than does its average large-blend peer. One of the fund's bigger single-name bets in recent years, though, has been one of omission.

Not owning Apple (AAPL)—4% of the S&P 500 and nearly 5% of the average large-blend fund—weighed on 2012's relative performance, given its 33% gain last year. The managers tend to shy away from technology companies because of cutthroat competition and short product cycles, so Apple has never appealed to them.

So far this year, as Apple's stock price has slid more than 16%, its absence from the portfolio has been a contributor to the fund's top-quartile 11.4% year-to-date gain through March 31.

Still, some of the fund's longtime holdings, including top ten holding Kimberly Clark (KMB, 3.8% of assets as of December 31), don't appear as attractively valued to the team today. However, in the absence of more attractive opportunities, the managers argue it's a well-run, financially strong company that should continue to hold up well in a low-growth environment.

Over time, the team's patient and disciplined process has been rewarded. Its 8.0% annualized gain since its December 2001 inception through March 31 outpaces the S&P 500 and large-blend category average by an annualized 3.2 and 3.9 percentage points, respectively, with less volatility.

It's been consistent, too, landing in the top quartile in more than three-fourths of all rolling three-year periods since inception. All told, investors are in good hands.

Editor's Note: The top three holdings in FMIHX (as of March 31) are 3M (MMM), 5.43%, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B), 5.29%, and Bank of New York Mellon (BK), 5.27.

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