Janus Capital Management is using its new structure to grow beyond growth.
The fund company, known largely for its focus on investing in growth stocks as well as its alarming plunge in assets and high rate of redemption, restructured a month ago when it wrested control from its parent company, the Stilwell Group. (For more on this, see
Janus Wins Out as Stillwell Regroups.) In short order, the reorganized Janus has moved to diversify beyond the actively managed growth funds that have hobbled it in recent years.
Janus has long coveted some of the funds offered by former sister company and now subsidiary Berger Funds. So not surprisingly, its first move was announcing last week that it was launching four new funds -- which will essentially be four Berger funds, operating under the same subadvisors but different names.
Former Berger unit Enhanced Investment Technologies will manage the quantitatively run Janus Aspen Risk Managed Large-Cap Growth Portfolio and Risk Managed Large-Cap Core funds. Another former Berger subsidiary, Bay Isle Financial, will oversee Janus Aspen Small-Cap Value. Perkins, Wold, McDonnell & Co., which has run
Berger Small-Cap Value for five years, will run Janus Aspen Mid-Cap Value.
"The major knock against Janus is that it doesn't have a diversified enough offering," says Morningstar senior fund analyst Brian Portnoy. With the bulk of its assets in large growth stocks -- the swath of the market that headed south first and fastest -- existing investors opted to pull their money out not only of their growth funds, but out of Janus entirely. "A more diversified lineup will attract new investors and give existing investors another place to be," Portnoy says.
Then again, the new funds aren't necessarily worthy of new investors. The Berger Small-Cap Value fund -- managed for 17 years by Bob Perkins of Perkins, Wold, McDonnell & Co. -- has beaten the category average since its inception in 1985. While that sounds promising, the fund is closed to new investors. Janus' Small-Cap Value will be subadvised by the somewhat untested Bay Isle Financial, and has a different portfolio from the Berger fund.
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Perkins, Wold, though, will manage the Janus Aspen Mid-Cap Value -- the most promising of the four new offerings. (This isn't Janus' first foray into value, and its earlier effort hasn't met with much success. The
Stategic Value fund, launched in 2000, has been mired at the bottom 10% of its category.)
The two quant funds won't do much towards diversifying Janus as a company. Both are large-cap funds, which Janus already has a slew of. The only distinction worth noting is the method by which it will choose companies -- Janus isn't known for programming a computer to pick stocks. Rather, the company's big advertising campaign in the late 1990s centered on how its managers really got to know a company.
Then again, the process by which quant funds operate can basically be scaled or modified to pick stocks in any asset class -- so perhaps we'll see more quant funds offered in other corners of the market.
The push toward greater diversification, though, won't likely be the panacea the company is looking for. "The Janus situation lacks an appropriate historical comparison," Portnoy says. "The value funds make them less of a boutique, which should be good for their business. But at the end of the day, the small- and mid-cap value funds can only handle so many assets. They can't make up for what Janus has lost."
As of July 30, Janus had net outflows of $9.7 billion -- more than any of the other top 25 fund families. The fund shop has about $135 billion under management, a far cry from the days when its assets swelled to about $300 billion.
The bigger test for Janus is whether they can turn around the performance of their large-cap funds, Portnoy says. "They've gotten creamed."