All in the Family

Rating the best and worst fund companies

asset-weighted, meaning that the funds with the most assets had the greatest impact on the ratings. For example, Fidelity Magellan, which recently had $76 billion in assets, wielded more influence on the company’s ranking than Fidelity Dividend Growth with $9 billion in assets.

Based on ratings from 0 (lowest) to 10 (highest), two families received FRC’s perfect score of 10: Global Asset Management and Janus and Weitz. Funds run by American Skandia; Citibank (Citifunds); Gabelli; PIMCo Advisors and Transamerica garnered a score of 9. Keep in mind that some of these families, such as Global Asset Management, Weitz and American Skandia, offer a smattering of funds, so they probably wouldn’t be considered a “go-to” fund family. Janus, the larger and better known of the lot, had a string of top-performers in 1998. Its three $10 billion-plus funds-Janus, Janus Worldwide and Janus Twenty-produced meaty returns of 39%, 26% and 73%, respectively.

Of the 10 largest fund families found in the Wiesenberger table, American Funds and Fidelity received a rating of 8 on the FRC list, while Franklin and Merrill Lynch lagged with a score of 2. Bringing up the rear: Berger, Dodge & Cox, Loomis Sayles, PBHG, Pioneer and Robertson Stephens all scored 1, while Neuberger Berman rated a 0 in the FRC ranking-its flagship Guardian Fund returned a miniscule 2.4% in 1998.

be also worked with Morningstar Inc., a Chicago-based research firm, to review families with more than $5 billion in assets. We ranked them by three-year returns in four different categories-domestic equity, international
equity, tax-exempt bond and taxable bond.

Janus placed among the top three in three of four categories and ranked a solid ninth in the tax-exempt bond listing. No other fund family ranked in the top 25 for all four categories. What’s more, Janus posted excellent five-year returns as well-21.84% in domestic equity and 19.34% in international equity. Several companies, however, placed in the top 25 in three categories: Fidelity, Vanguard, Alliance, Strong, MainStay and Harbor funds.

Need even more help before making a decision? One possible source is the book, The 100 Best Mutual Funds To Own In America (Dearborn Financial Publishing, $19.95), which covers stock funds.

Of the 100 funds listed, 17 are from Fidelity, ranging from Fidelity Select Home Finance Portfolio, ranked No. 9, to Fidelity Emerging Growth Fund (No. 100). Excelsior Value and Restructuring Fund was ranked No. 1. Thirteen of these 17 funds are Fidelity Select funds, which focus on a variety of sectors.

If you eliminate those funds-which are not meant to be the core of your portfolio-the four diversified funds
are Fidelity Destiny I Portfolio (No. 71); Fidelity Blue Chip Growth Fund (No. 72); Fidelity Value Fund (No. 81); and Fidelity Emerging Growth Fund.

Aside from Fidelity, four fund families-Alliance, American Century, MFS, and T. Rowe Price-had four funds placed among the top 100, while Invesco, Putnam and Vanguard had three top funds on this list.

So what’s the bottom line for investors? Fidelity and Vanguard, the two largest fund families, seem to rank at or near the top, no

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