Two Battered Funds Announce Reduced Distributions

It could've been worse for holders of the Yacktman fund and Robertson Stephens Contrarian.
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Last-minute maneuvering appears to have limited the tax bite for shareholders of two lackluster funds.

The $359.1 million

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Yacktman fund and the $150 million

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Robertson Stephens Contrarian fund each declared smaller-than-expected capital gains distributions Tuesday.

The Yacktman fund, which has posted a negative 2.1% year-to-date return through Monday, announced it will issue an estimated $2.35-per-share long-term capital gains distribution. That's 17.2% of the fund's net asset value as of Monday's close. Generally, distributions of more than 15% are considered high.

The distribution for Robertson Stephens Contrarian is $0.56 per share, or 9.3% of the fund's net asset value as of Monday's close.

The $2.35 estimated distribution for Yacktman is significantly lower than the $2.93 figure given out by a customer service representative at the fund's 800 number earlier in the day. Fund manager Donald Yacktman wasn't available for comment Tuesday afternoon, but his office said the distribution could go lower still, because some transactions were still being settled by the fund late Tuesday afternoon.

A final figure for the distribution will be announced Wednesday, a Yacktman representative said. The record date for the distribution is Tuesday, and the distribution will be made Wednesday.

In November, Yacktman announced an estimated $3.15-per-share distribution, which was 23% of the net asset value at the time. But he said then the distribution could go down, though he wouldn't give specifics.

For shareholders of Robertson Stephens Contrarian, which has posted a negative 34.1% return through Monday, the tax bite could have been worse, says the San Francisco-based fund firm. While annual distributions for its other mutual funds took place on Dec. 11, the firm said last week that it was delaying Contrarian's distribution so that it could "effect a distribution in a manner that is more tax-beneficial to shareholders."

The final figure is "significantly lower" now than it would have been on Dec. 11, says spokeswoman Stephanie Linkous. She declined to say how much lower or how the fund firm managed to reduce the impact.

The record date for the distribution is Tuesday, and Wednesday is the date of the distribution.