Fidelity, which has taken some of its biggest brand names off the shelf in the past few years, is putting two back up.
The highly regarded
Low-Priced Stock fund, closed since last April, will reopen to new investors March 17, Fidelity announced Wednesday. At the same time, Fidelity also will reopen its struggling
Small-Cap Stock fund, which had been closed since last May.
Other well-known Fidelity funds that remain off-limits to new investors are
Growth & Income.
But, just because the sign says open, doesn't mean you have to buy, says one Fidelity watcher.
Jim Lowell, the editor of the independent newsletter
, is lukewarm on Small-Cap Stock.
"It's still a new fund, it's now just coming up on its first year anniversary and it still has its 3% redemption fee
for shares sold within three years of purchase," he says. "I've got to say, I don't like having my hands tied. That's just not my persuasion."
In the latest issue of his newsletter, Lowell wrote an analysis of Fidelity's closed funds, putting a buy recommendation on Low-Priced Stock and a hold label on Small-Cap Stock.
To be fair, Lowell's competition,
, has a buy recommendation on Small-Cap Stock.
Soon after its launch in March 1998, Small-Cap Stock slammed its doors to all investors -- a move the company calls a "hard close" -- after being pelted with $764 million in cash during its first two months. But last November, Fidelity opened the fund to existing shareholders who wanted to purchase additional shares. At the end of February, the fund, managed by Paul Antico, had $489.7 million in assets.
The fund's performance has been less impressive than the massive flow of cash that greeted it at its birth. Since inception, Small-Cap Stock has returned negative 15.5% through last Thursday. Still, that edges the return of the
small-cap stock index, which posted a negative 15.7% return for that period. The fund lags its peers, though, which are returning an average of negative 14.7% over the same period.
Lowell was more upbeat about the prospects of the Low-Priced Stock fund, managed by Joel Tillinghast.
"On a relative basis, Low-Priced Stock remains one of the best small-cap stock funds you can buy," Lowell says. "I do believe
Tillinghast is one of the brightest and best over at Fidelity."
Fidelity closed Low-Priced Stock to new investors when its assets reached $12.1 billion and its cash position was close to 20%. The fund returned 0.5% in 1998, outpacing the negative 3.5% return of the Russell 2000. And while Lowell wrote that he thought the fund's closure was permanent, he seemed happy to be proven wrong.
Noting that Fidelity's other small-cap fund,
Small-Cap Selector, is still open to new investors, he says, "I think it's very positive that Fidelity investors now have three small-cap funds to choose from. But I think the only two that are worth investing in at this time are Low-Priced Stock and Small Stock Selector."
Scott Beyerl, a Fidelity spokesman, notes that the objective of Low-Priced Stock fund isn't necessarily to invest in small-cap stocks. Instead, the fund looks for stocks priced under $35, a price that usually goes along with a small-cap company. He also notes that Low-Priced Stock's current cash position has been reduced to 2.3% of assets, which now stand at $7.8 billion.