could go to China, and only
, undisputed champ of growth investing, could sell a value fund while the investment style sputters.
Janus Strategic Value
emerged from a monthlong subscription period on Tuesday with more than $1 billion in assets. The fund launches Wednesday.
"Right now, any fund with the Janus moniker will draw a huge amount of money," says Dave Haywood of Boston fund consultant
. He says clients have jokingly told him that investors are so high on Janus that they'd wrap their arms around a new
Janus raised $388 million through online broker
and the rest on its own. No final subscription total was available Tuesday evening, but Janus confirmed it would be at least $1 billion and probably more.
The Janus value fund even outsold
, a new Internet fund that raised $150 million through Schwab and about $50 million on its own during a six-week subscription that also ended Tuesday.
During a subscription period, investors can reserve shares of a new fund at a fixed price, in this case $10. At the end of the subscription period, Tuesday in this case, investors' money is pooled and used to launch the fund's portfolio.
The Denver shop is coming off an
incredible 1999 in which the firm's 14 stock funds
more than 80% returns.
The brand has become so synonymous with hot performance that investors appear to be using the new value fund to slake their thirst for Janus shares -- even though the fund's chosen style is way, way out of favor. Last year, large-cap growth funds outreturned large-cap value funds, 36% to 1%. Investors pulled an estimated $51.2 billion out of value funds in 1999, according to Haywood.
At the same time, they have been practically throwing money at Janus. More than $35 billion gushed into its funds last year, and in the fourth quarter, nearly 25% of all stock-fund investments went to Janus.
Where will Janus Strategic Value's thirtysomething manager David Decker put this money to work?
Decker, who also runs Janus'
Special Situations fund,
last year that he would look for undervalued stocks, but prefers free cash flow and return on capital to the strict price-to-earnings yardstick used by value purists.
He also said he might pick stocks similar to those in the Special Situations fund, but buy them when they're cheaper and lock in profits sooner. That fund's portfolio doesn't have the hallmarks of a value fund. On Jan. 31, its top three sectors were cable television, cellular telecommunications and computers, according to Janus'
With that kind of portfolio, investors should expect a flexible approach to value, rather than a stricter strategy that leads to high stakes in more traditional value sectors such as financials and cyclicals. It should resemble the approach Bill Miller employs on his
Legg Mason Value Trust.
You might not call the approach value -- fund classifiers like
might not either -- but you would have to call it successful. Using a fairly price-sensitive approach (value, Janus-style), Decker's Special Situations fund has posted an 41.4% average annual return over the past three years, beating 65% of the fund's mid-cap-growth peers, according to Morningstar.
Even if the value fund matches that performance, it won't be easy for Decker to keep investors happy. Morningstar has reported that even with such solid performance, in 1999, Special Situations often lost more money to redemptions than it took in as investors chased even hotter Janus funds. Now that Janus' name is synonymous with outsize returns, investors may not be patient with this fund if they feel its returns don't meet their inflated expectations.
"It will be hard to match the record they've put together over the past five years. There will be a sizable percentage of people that buy shares who aren't hungry for value shares, but are hungry for a Janus rocket," says Burt Greenwald, a Philadelphia-based mutual fund consultant.
Before Decker can face those expectations, he has the pleasant problem of putting more than $1 billion to work. A Janus spokeswoman said Decker wouldn't be available for interviews for at least a week.