Last week, we took a close look at a trio of funds that I consider to be among Vanguard's very best actively managed offerings. This week, we follow up by cherry-picking a few favorites from another of the fund industry's true-blue behemoths: Fidelity. The Boston-based money manager is home to more than 175 funds -- not to mention nearly $1 trillion in mutual fund assets under management. Yep, you read that right: nearly a trillion dollars. Not too shabby, eh?
There are no accidents
A shop doesn't garner assets like that by accident, of course, and so it's no surprise that, in addition to being one of the industry's biggest money managers, Fidelity is also one of the best. Its talent pool is both wide and deep, and its small army of analysts -- a good many of whom eventually grow up to be Fido fund managers -- is generally whip-smart.
When I visited the shop last year, I was especially impressed with its bond-side operation, a setup that finds portfolio managers seated roughly six feet away from analysts and plunked down right next to traders and financially savvy techies, sophisticated programmers who run complicated database queries and produce the results seemingly before the manager has even finished asking for them.
If you remember Radar from the late, great M*A*S*H (and you do remember Radar, right?), you know exactly what I'm talking about.
As strong as the shop is, Fidelity certainly has its share of dogs, and one of its mangiest mutts is unfortunately one of the shop's most popular funds. Back in its Peter Lynch heyday, Fidelity Magellan
Now, with a bloated asset base of more than $60 billion, Magellan has morphed into a closet S&P 500 tracker. Its R-Squared score -- a measurement of how much of a fund's performance can be explained by movements in a given index -- is 99 relative to the S&P. That figure makes the fund's seemingly reasonable price tag of 0.70% seem not so reasonable after all.
For good reason, Magellan has closed to new investors, but I'd encourage those folks who hold it now to take a close look at the tax consequences and consider selling. That goes double, by the way, for those investors who want to keep all of their money at Fidelity: The shop certainly has plenty of other funds that are top-shelf picks.
Indeed, I recommended my favorite Fido fund back in the second issue of Champion Funds. Meanwhile, below I highlight three other funds that I think are among the rest of Fidelity's best.
Fidelity Asset Manager: Growth
This is a solid pick for investors who are, say, 10 years out from retirement and in search of a fund that provides both stock and fixed-income exposure. Its lead manager, Dick Habermann, has been subtly adjusting the fund's asset allocation with aplomb since 1986, and its chief stock picker, Charlie Mangum, is among the fund industry's very best growth-stock pickers.
To be sure, Mangum's contrarian streak can lead to protracted periods of underperformance, but not to worry: A downturn here typically means the manager is snapping up shares of future winners on the cheap. Indeed, Mangum's track record at Fidelity Dividend Growth -- a fund that invests in the likes of Cardinal Health
Fidelity Real Estate Investment
As I mentioned last week, I'm not generally a fan of sector funds. There are exceptions, though, and Fidelity Real Estate Investment is one of them. For starters, I think that real estate represents an asset class unto itself and, for finishers, this fund represents a fine way of gaining quick and easy exposure to it.
Managed for the last six years by Steve Buller, Fidelity Real Estate Investment has more than delivered the goods for its shareholders, providing an annualized return over the last five years of nearly 20%. This year, in an interest rate environment best described as dicey, the thing has returned an eye-popping 18%. Taken together -- and added to a sensible strategy that emphasizes company fundamentals over top-down market calls -- those facts add up to a rock-solid real estate pick.
And did I mention that the fund comes with a price tag of less than 1%? It's all true.
With an asset base of nearly $40 billion, it would be easy to complain that, like Magellan, Contrafund has become way too big for its britches. At the end of the day, though, what we have here is a fund that competes head to head with the likes of Vanguard 500 Index
For those keeping score at home, that represents a difference of more than $30,000 over the period. And as you might imagine, the fund has notched that victory mainly by going its own way. Contrafund's most recently disclosed top pick, for instance, is Avon Products
Compare that with your brokerage bills, and call me in the morning.
Champion Funds chief analyst Shannon Zimmerman isn't a doctor, but he plays one on TV. Oh, wait. He doesn't play one on TV, but Shannon actually isa doctor. You can receive a free trial subscription to his newsletter by clicking here.He owns none of the securities mentioned. The Motley Fool is investors writingfor investors.