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Morningstar Announces 2012 U.S. Fund Manager Of The Year Award Winners

He has more than $1 million invested in the two funds combined. JVIAX and HEMZX have a 1.47 percent and 1.62 percent expense ratio, respectively. Both funds have a Silver Analyst Rating and a 5-star Morningstar Rating for risk-adjusted performance. Jain is employed by Vontobel Asset Management, which sub-advises the Virtus funds.

Fixed-Income Fund Manager of the Year: Mark Kiesel, PIMCO Investment-Grade Corporate Bond (PIGIX)Mark Kiesel is the 10-year manager of one of the best-performing corporate bond funds over both long- and short-term periods: the fund has an 11.1 percent three-year annualized return and a 10.7 percent five-year annualized return. The fund's average annual gain of 8.2 percent since he joined in December 2002 through April 2012 is the second-best showing in the intermediate-term bond category. For 2012, the $10.2 billion fund gained 15 percent.

"Kiesel's long-standing bet on banks paid off this year, along with his selective exposure to companies in cyclical industries. He balances PIMCO's overall firm views on the global economy with his ability to pick securities from the bottom up," Herbst said. "There's a lot of complexity to the techniques employed in the portfolio, and Kiesel has executed them well. He looks for margins of safety but doesn't shun credit riskā€”the fund's exposure to contingent capital securities issued by Lloyds TSB, a more esoteric and riskier type of holding, was one of his best-performing positions this year."

The fund has a Silver Analyst Rating, a 5-star Morningstar Rating for risk-adjusted performance, and an expense ratio of 0.5 percent. In 2010, Kiesel was nominated in the same category.

Alternatives Fund Manager of the Year: The team, TFS Market Neutral (TFSMX) TFS Market Neutral is one of the oldest funds in the market-neutral category, with an eight-year track record and $1.8 billion in assets. In 2012, the fund achieved the highest absolute return of 7.8 percent in its category, and its risk-adjusted return (daily annualized Sharpe ratio) ranked fourth. The fund's quantitative small-cap equity-focused strategy also produced a significant positive alpha relative to the Russell 2000, as it has done in all but two years since inception.

"It's unusual for a quantitative fund to have such consistent, positive performance, but the team behind the models is really what drives results. The six listed portfolio managers come from quantitative backgrounds and are supported by a small group of analysts, programmers, and traders who regularly help test existing models and build new ones," said Nadia Papagiannis, CFA, director of alternative funds research for Morningstar. "The team is also always looking for new strategies, and performs back-testing analysis at least once a year, or if a strategy performs unexpectedly."

TFS Market Neutral is currently the only alternative mutual fund with a Gold Analyst Rating. The fund has a 5-star Morningstar Rating for risk-adjusted performance, and a 2.47 percent expense ratio. Five of the six portfolio managers on the team are equity partners at the employee-owned firm, which requires management to invest 50 percent of their liquid net worth in TFS' managed products. 

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