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Manager Departures Continue at Janus

Will the last portfolio manager left at Janus please turn the lights out?

Well, that may be a bit of an overstatement, but the personnel bloodletting continues at Janus Capital's (NYSE: JNS  ) funds. The most recent casualty is Daniel Kozlowski, one of three portfolio managers serving on the Janus Adviser Long/Short Fund (JALSX). Kozlowski will be leaving the firm as of March 31. This fledgling fund has been around for only a year and a half, but has posted first-rate returns during that time, thanks to high-flying returns from portfolio holdings like Owens-Illinois (NYSE: OI  ) and Forest Oil (NYSE: FST  ) .

Close the door behind you
Kozlowski's departure marks the latest in a string of manager defections, which have recently included Scott Schoelzel of Janus Twenty (JAVLX), David Corkins of Janus Fund (JANSX), and Minyoung Sohn of Janus Growth & Income (JAGIX) and Janus Fundamental Equity (JAEIX). All told, more than a dozen managers have parted ways with the firm in recent months.

The reason for this mass exodus? Janus CEO Gary Black has been overhauling company operating procedures, including making changes to manager compensation, risk controls, and analyst workload. Many of these changes did not sit well with Janus' managers, and some have opted to leave as a result.

While multiple manager defections are never a good reflection on company culture, I think Black is making the right moves. His changes are a good step in the direction of unifying company culture, and creating an improved research process. Unfortunately, these new protocols have had the effect of reining in portfolio managers who previously enjoyed a bit more freedom, prompting some to throw in the towel. No doubt Janus will be hurt by its manager turnover, so Black will need to focus on retention looking forward. But while there will be short-term pain, I think these changes will be a net positive for Janus in the long run.

All in all, I'd keep a close eye on Janus in the near term. Fundholders should remain wary, and consider selling if their own manager has flown the coop. But there are still some decent funds out there with long-term managers, including two of my favorites. Janus Contrarian (JSVAX) has held up fairly well so far during the downturn. And Janus Mid-Cap Value (JMCVX) has found winning investments in companies like railroad Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU  ) and Equitable Resources (NYSE: EQT  ) .

These personnel moves likely won't be the end of the world for Janus, so here's hoping it can capitalize on these changes and emerge a stronger company in the end -- before anymore portfolio managers head for the door.

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