At the end of last year,
asked whether Helen Young Hayes, manager of
Worldwide fund and the $5.1 billion
Overseas fund, was spread too thin. With little fanfare, Janus has addressed the question.
At the end of last quarter, Janus notified shareholders that Laurence Chang -- co-manager of Overseas since it closed to new investors in April 1998 -- also will co-manage the open and growing Worldwide fund. No public announcement was made even though Worldwide is the nation's 22nd-largest mutual fund.
The move will likely ease Hayes' Herculean workload and keep the fund open -- an important point because investors are offering to pay premium prices for shares of the closed Overseas fund.
"This will absolutely help Ms. Hayes address the growing asset base that she's managing," says Janus spokeswoman Shelly Grice.
In addition to the $27 billion Hayes runs for Janus, she also manages the $791 million
Idex Global fund and parts of two other portfolios, the $239 million
New England Star Worldwide fund and the $139 million
Masters Select International fund. She also managed private-client accounts. Worldwide is the second-largest fund in
global fund category and represents about 13% of Janus' $167 billion in assets. As their names indicate, Overseas invests mainly in foreign stocks, while Worldwide blends U.S. and foreign stock investments.
Like a platform diver with a beer belly, a fund with a bloated asset base can be a real belly-flop. Large funds simply aren't as nimble as smaller ones and have to take larger stakes in each stock they buy to significantly impact the fund's performance.
But while Hayes' funds have cooled off a bit as investors' dollars have flooded in, it's hard to criticize her record. Ranked by total return, Worldwide is the No. 2 global fund over the past five years, and Overseas is the top international fund over the same time period, according to Lipper.
How have she and her team done it?
It's hard to say. Janus' Grice says Chang and the seldom-quoted Hayes are on a "media hiatus" and were unavailable to comment. According to the fund's June shareholder report, the most recent available, Worldwide's portfolio had a decided technology and telecom bent but only 9.1% exposure to the rising Asian markets. But with an 86% annual turnover rate, the portfolio may look very different today.
The Overseas fund's portfolio has an even heavier technology and telecom focus and had 19.2% of its assets invested in Asia as of June 30. Its turnover rate, 105%, is even higher than Worldwide's.
While Chang's input is unclear, his presence may be reassuring to those who worry about the funds' size.
"If some investors were worried about the fund getting too big, adding a manager might make them a bit more comfortable," says Jim Folwell, a consultant at fund-researcher
. Because Worldwide can invest at home and abroad, its asset size shouldn't concern shareholders, he adds.
According to Janus' Grice, Chang's co-manager status gives him the authority to execute buy and sell orders on his own. In the past, he had worked on Worldwide, but Hayes had to clear all his recommendations.
The low-profile announcement is in line with Janus' typical communications strategy, but some shareholders have posted messages on Internet message boards, asking if the fund will close or Hayes will depart. Grice says neither is the case.
A look at the message boards for the closed Overseas fund confirms investors' fervent interest in Hayes' management. Some are offering $250 for a single share of the fund, which would give them the chance to open an account and add to their investment. Friday, the fund's closing share price was $23.41.