U.S. stock mutual funds eked out a 0. 2 percent gain in the second quarter, reversing the sharpest slide in five years, as energy and commodity...
U.S. stock mutual funds eked out a 0.2 percent gain in the second quarter, reversing the sharpest slide in five years, as energy and commodity stocks helped overcome the collapse of the subprime-mortgage market.
Stock funds fared better than the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, which declined 2.7 percent (including reinvested dividends) in the three months ending June 30.
The performance followed an 11 percent first-quarter plunge for stock funds, their biggest since 2003.
Oil and gas investments helped many stock managers offset declines in other sectors. Energy shares in the S&P 500 rose 19 percent as oil prices soared to a record. Kenneth Heebner’s $8.5 billion CGM Focus Fund, with more than two-thirds of its assets in energy and materials stocks, surged 27 percent to rank as the top U.S. stock fund.
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“It was tough to find places to hide except for energy and mining if you were a stock fund,” John Coumarianos, an equity analyst at Morningstar, said in an interview.
Funds specializing in natural-resources stocks rose 18 percent, the most among all mutual-fund categories.
The top performer in the natural-resources group was the $1.5 billion BlackRock Global Resources Fund, which surged 45 percent.
Utility funds ranked as the second-best category, advancing 6.4 percent in the quarter.
The worst performers were funds that invest in financial companies, which declined 13 percent. The falling values of securities after the subprime-mortgage collapse forced banks and financial institutions worldwide to take $402.5 billion in credit losses and write-downs, according to Bloomberg.
Value funds, which invest in companies they deem cheap compared with peers, fared worse than growth funds, which invest in companies growing earnings faster than average. Value funds slumped 2 percent in the second quarter, compared with the 3 percent increase in growth funds. That’s because many value managers loaded up on financial shares as they got cheap.
Bill Miller’s $12 billion Legg Mason Value Trust, whose 15-year streak of beating the S&P 500 was snapped in 2006, slumped 11 percent in the quarter, ranking among the 10 worst-performing U.S. stock funds, according to Morningstar.
The fund was hurt by its stakes in financial companies. Miller was also hurt because of the lack of energy holdings, which he avoided since a rally began in 2003.
The largest U.S. mutual fund, the $197 billion Growth Fund of America, rose 1.2 percent.
The $78 billion Contrafund, Fidelity Investments’ largest stock fund, rose 3.4 percent.