FUND WATCH


A New Opportunity With Masters International

With a stable of well-regarded money managers, this top performer has opened up its doors again.



Good news: A top-performing international fund is again taking new investors. Masters' Select International (symbol MSILX), which offers exposure to a trove of experienced money managers, closed to new money in October 2004 when it reached $1 billion in assets. Although assets are now approaching $2 billion, the fund has the capacity to take in more money following a stretch of shareholder redemptions over the past 15 months, according to Litman/Gregory.

The firm also is shopping for a new manager to add to its all-star lineup. Before its closing, the fund had been one of our Kiplinger 25 funds.

In a single package, Masters' Select International currently employs five seasoned stock pickers representing an array of investing strategies. The lineup is Oakmark International's David Herro, Thornburg International Value's Bill Fries, Marsico International Opportunities' Jim Gendelman, Third Avenue International Value's Amit Wadhwaney and Mastholm Asset Management's Ted Tyson. Each contributes eight to 15 top choices for this fund.

Because its managers approach stock picking differently, Select International is diversified enough to serve as a one-stop international portfolio. Bargain hunters Herro, Fries and Wadhwaney complement Gendelman and Tyson, who favor growth stocks.

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The fund holds 68 stocks of companies that vary by size, industry and geographic region. More than three-quarters of the fund's assets reside in developed economies, and emerging markets account for 17% of the portfolio. Currently, the portfolio leans heavily toward large companies, but it also devotes more than a quarter of assets to midsize firms and includes a handful of small outfits.

Although it lags its rivals some years, Select International's long-term record is airtight. From its December 1997 launch through mid-September, the fund returned an annualized 15%, or more than double that of the MSCI EAFE index. It requires a $5,000 minimum initial investment and charges a relatively low 1.06% in annual fees.




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