Economic crises always create opportunities for those who can take advantage of them. Many folks are worried about a possible inflationary future, but there are many things -- bigger-ticket luxuries such as vacation homes and boats, for example -- selling at steep discounts to recent prices. In most cases, the story is simple: There are just too many overextended people trying to cut back, and not enough buyers stepping in.
Because I'm a car geek, one indicator I watch is the used Ferrari market. One model I've long admired is the Ferrari 456 GT, a 1990s-era V12-powered beast with achingly beautiful (to me, anyway) lines. A lot of modern Ferraris are garish, but this one ... wow.
Anyway, 456 GTs cost more than $200,000 new, but all new cars depreciate, and these models seemed to settle, a few years back, at around $75,000. That's where most car-market watchers expected them to stay, and since even that is more than I'm likely to spend on an automotive toy, I never really expected to own one.
But things change ...
But I recently saw one on eBay with a "Buy It Now" price of $40,500. A nice one. And I've seen several others sell in that price range recently. Nice ones. If I hadn't just bought a new house, spending a considerable portion of our family's savings in the process, I'd be tempted. (Actually, who am I kidding? That's not a temptation I'd fight for very long.)
Right now, though, it just wouldn't be a Foolish move -- we've got other financial priorities at the moment, and I'm too debt-averse to take a loan to buy a toy. But the economy has created some Foolish buying opportunities that I am considering -- and one in particular that I urge you to take a look at as well.
A unique investing opportunity
Anyone who has ever researched actively managed mutual funds knows that there are good funds, there are bad funds ... and there are a very few great funds. Some of those great funds are well known -- American Mutual Fund (AMRMX), Vanguard Windsor II (VWNFX), and a couple of Fidelity and T. Rowe Price offerings come to mind. Others are lesser known, almost insider secrets -- the wonderful Sound Shore (SSHFX), for instance, a smallish fund currently trolling large-cap value waters with stocks such as Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX ) and Time Warner (NYSE: TWX ) .
Many great funds were closed in recent years, as capital appreciation and new inflows swelled them up to nearly unmanageable sizes. But just as with Ferraris and beachfront houses, the market slump has led a few of these legends to shrink in value -- and to reopen.
For those of us in Fooldom who follow the fund business, one reopening in particular has attracted our attention in a big way. Amanda Kish, lead advisor for the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter service, felt so strongly about it that she made it the centerpiece of the newsletter's new issue, which is available online at 4 p.m. ET today.
This fund has been closed for a long time -- so long, in fact, that it has flown under the media radar for years -- but it's absolutely a textbook example of a "great fund," and it's not likely to stay open for long. Consider:
- Its lead manager has nearly two decades' worth of experience at the helm -- and a market-beating track record through the 2000-2002 bear market (and so far through this one, too). As Amanda often notes, manager tenure is a key predictor of fund performance.
- It has an S&P 500-trouncing history in bull markets as well, and a history of finding the best "sure-thing" investments year in and year out.
- There's no load, and total expenses are well below those of many competitors.
- The manager is supported by a deep group of analysts and a solid, well-funded infrastructure -- a key condition for ongoing success.
Recently, the fund's manager has been building big positions in tech giants such as Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) that should rebound well once the economy improves. Balancing that out, the fund also has sizeable exposures to the kinds of recession-resistant consumer stocks (think Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) , Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) , and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ ) , for example) that are likely to hang tough -- and pay dividends -- no matter where the economy goes over the near term.
Long story short, this fund's manager looks for (and finds) growth, but of the steady-and-upbeat variety, avoiding moonshot-type stocks and the volatility and risks that tend to come along with them. It's not likely to beat the index by 40% anytime soon, but it's not designed to -- a solid, steady level of outperformance is the goal. If you have a big position in an S&P 500 index fund and you're looking to get a little more than the index is giving you, this fund merits serious consideration.
What's the fund? I don't want to spoil the surprise -- check out Amanda's full report on this quiet Wall Street legend in the new issue of Champion Funds. It's a subscription-only service, but you can get complete access for 30 days with a no-hassle free trial. Just click here to get started.