A raft of new mutual funds is being introduced by mutual fund families. Following is a wrapup of some of the latest offerings.
--Two mutual funds have been introduced by the Mackenzie and Ivy family of funds, Boca Raton, Fla. The new funds are the Ivy Latin America Strategy Fund, a regional fund focusing on Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico; and the Ivy New Century Fund, a diversified emerging markets fund.
The funds will be marketed to 401(k) and 403(b) plans as well as retail investors.
--NBD Bank, Detroit, added two funds to its proprietary family of mutual funds, the Woodward Funds.
A short duration bond fund and an international equity fund were added to the Woodward Funds, which were established in 1987. The family now offer 17 different investment portfolios - six stock, five bond, five money market and a balanced fund. Assets in the Woodward Funds total more than $6 billion, ranking them the 10th largest bank proprietary fund family in the country.
--A new midcap mutual fund has been launched by The MAS Funds, managed by Miller, Anderson & Sherrerd, West Conshohocken, Pa. Called the Mid Cap Value Portfolio, the fund will seek attractively valued stocks with market capitalizations between $500 million and $3 billion.
The MAS Funds are for institutions and have $6 billion in assets. The investment minimum is $1 million.
--T. Rowe Price Associates Inc., Baltimore, has introduced an aggressive equity fund that will invest in both growth and value stocks with no limits on market capitalization. Designed for aggressive investors, the no-load fund will draw on the research and analytic expertise of the entire firm to find companies with accelerating earnings growth and low prices based on measures such as price/earnings and price-to-book ratios. It also will seek companies benefiting from evolving market cycles, changing economic conditions and special situations like management changes, restructurings or regulatory developments. It will hold 30 to 50 stocks.
--Ziegler Partners, Milwaukee, will open its first mutual fund, a U.S. small-cap fund, in late March. The no-load fund will be managed by Carlene Murphy Ziegler, formerly portfolio manager of the Strong Common Stock Fund, the Strong Opportunity Fund and separate small-cap institutional portfolios at Strong/Corneliuson Capital Management (now Strong Capital Management Inc.). The fund will close to institutional and retail investors when it reaches $300 million in assets.
MFS considering acquisition
BOSTON - Massachusetts Financial Services is looking at potential acquisitions in the mutual fund area. MFS President Jeffrey Shames wouldn't say whether the firm has identified a target, but he said the acquisition should increase MFS' global equity presence, make it a larger player in the pension world and allow it to merge back-office and other functions of the two firms.
The mutual fund market is maturing and ripe for consolidation, said Mr. Shames. He noted that in 1993, when the firm first looked at acquisitions, there were no willing targets, but now there are plenty.
Putnam wins DALBAR honor
BOSTON - For the fifth consecutive year, Putnam Investments has been awarded the DALBAR Quality Tested Service Seal, an award given to mutual fund companies for excellence in service to investors.
The award is based on 55 tests that typify the regular interaction investors have with mutual fund firms. Forty-five fund groups are tested anonymously during a one-year period by DALBAR analysts.
Only two fund companies have achieved a five-year record of excellence: Putnam and American Capital, according to Anne Harvey, vice president of DALBAR Financial Services.
Legg Mason offers allocator
BALTIMORE - Legg Mason Capital Management Inc. will roll out a strategic funds allocator that will blend combinations of Legg Mason mutual funds to help financial intermediaries fit the financial needs of clients, according to Edward A. Taber III, executive vice president of Legg Mason Inc.
The firm is responding to the explosive growth in asset allocation products sold by direct marketers as well as brokers through wrap fee programs. Asset allocation funds are picking up almost 20% of net new cash flows into long-term mutual funds, said Mr. Taber.
As of Dec. 31, 1990, asset allocation funds totaled less than $20 billion, representing 1.8% of industry assets. As of Sept. 30, 1994, they mushroomed to $123.6 billion, or 5.6% of industry assets.
Mr. Taber is cautious about cash flow prospects for the industry in 1995. "I'm a bit worried. We will see a slowing in economic activity soon."
"Even if bonds stabilize and rates turn around and a bond rally endures in the taxable and tax-exempt markets," he fears a repeat of the 1987 to 1990 sales situation, precipitated by the stock market crash in October 1987.
"People were traumatized by October 1987. It took a long time to let go and come back in. It may be awhile before individual investors come back en masse into the bond market."