That's Just Shameful, Fidelity

The storied Fidelity Magellan (FUND: FMAGX  ) mutual fund is welcoming new investors after a 10-year break. That's old news. Earlier this week, I offered five reasons to avoid the freshly reopened fund.

I was more than willing to let my criticism die there, but then I was forwarded a promotional email sent out to a Fidelity client.

"Fidelity Magellan Fund has helped millions of Americans into retirement with an average annual return of more than 18% since its inception in 1963," the email starts. "And now it's available to you."

The first part has a footnote, and I was initially relieved. I'm not a fan of fine print, but I figured that the footnoting was there to alert the reader that:

  • The bulk of those heady returns were the handiwork of Peter Lynch, who left the fund 18 years ago.
  • Most of those gains took place when the fund was small and nimble, not the clunky $45 billion behemoth it is today.
  • Since the fund was closed 10 years ago, things haven't been so hot. The average annualized return has actually been a mere 6.3% through the past decade.

But the disclaimer mentioned none of that. "Based on fund's inception date of 5/2/63, through 12/31/07," the footnote read, in its entirety.

Obviously, I don't expect in-depth explanations in promotional materials. Fidelity ultimately steers the reader to consult the prospectus -- and rightly so -- as it digs into the nitty-gritty. However, I'm not happy with Fidelity using hysterical historical returns to market a fund that has been a revolving door of fund managers over the years.

The current manager is a good one, and he's beaten the market since taking the helm less than three years ago. He did so by looking beyond our borders to load up the fund with fast-growing companies like Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) , Ctrip.com (Nasdaq: CTRP  ) , and Canadian Natural Resources (NYSE: CNQ  ) . To be frank, that's the only return that should be published in marketing the fund. A restaurant is only as good as its current chef. It's just wrong for Fidelity to be selling Lynch meat when this is Harry Lange's lunchbox now.

You're better than that, Fidelity.


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