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Going Global the Safe Way

Hey international-minded investors, are you looking for a good mutual fund?

Actually, let's rephrase that: Hey nonmarket-timing international-minded investors, are you looking for a good mutual fund? You might want to take a gander at the (PGVFX) fund -- one of the top global performers of the past five years.

The $29 million Global Value fund has plenty to offer most investors. The tenured manager, Bernie Horn, has a keen eye for spotting undervalued stocks both at home and abroad (unlike international funds, global funds may also dip in to the U.S.). An impressive record of returns: The three-year average annual return of 14.8% ranks in the top 1% of all global funds and the five-year average return of 10.4% ranks in the top 9% of all peers, according to Morningstar.

The only folks Polaris Global Value may not be good for are short-term traders looking to time global funds -- the Al Capones to Eliot Spitzer's Eliot Ness. Horn, whose family has substantial investments in the fund, keeps timers out with a redemption fee and an investment style -- slow, deep-value focused -- that doesn't offer the short-term pop timers crave.

However, the fund has done just fine by its long-term investors, and one guesses the $29 million fund will draw some new long-term recruits. The fund's expense ratio runs a bit high at 1.75%, but it's below the category average 1.89%.

In today's column, Horn takes us around the world in 10 Questions, weighing in on a host of topics -- why he likes Japan, how the collision of Eastern- and Western-style capitalism may hurt the Ciscos of the world, what stocks he's buying and selling and why market-timers don't like his fund.

1. What's the philosophy of the Global Value fund, and how should investors use it in their overall portfolios?

The overall mission is to provide a very well-diversified global portfolio that should serve as a core part of someone's investment strategy. That's the overall product position.

The philosophy is a deep-value philosophy that should, in theory, do well in down markets and perhaps not as well in an aggressively fast-moving growth market. If you look at the performance over the past three and five years, it has in fact delivered the promised. Over three years the fund has been up about 10%, while its index and peers have been down 10%.
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