Mutual fund managers are thankful too, you know.
Like most Americans, the folks who oversee the nation's mutual funds will join their families Thursday to celebrate Thanksgiving. And like the rest of us, they will fill up on turkey and stuffing, and then waddle over to the television to fall asleep in front of the football game. (Or, like some of us, pretend to fall asleep to avoid cleaning off the table prior to dessert.)
There is, however, one thing that separates the average American from a mutual fund manager, and it's not that they are responsible for millions of dollars of retirement money and you can barely balance a checkbook. No, the chief difference is what they count among their blessings. Would anybody at your Thanksgiving gathering, for example, be thankful for New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer?
We thought not. That's why
surveyed a number of fund managers to find out what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday.
Amen to That!
Fund managers who were long energy shares this year will be among the first to count their blessings at the Thanksgiving dinner table. And most are quick to admit that they wished they loaded up on second helpings back when oil was closer to $40 a barrel. Says George Schwartz, portfolio manager for the
Ave Maria Catholic Values fund, "I'm deeply thankful we had oil stocks this year. ... I just wish we had more."
Along those same power lines, Barry James of the
Golden Rainbow Fund says he is "grateful utility stocks were so unloved when we found them."
On the other hand, some managers welcome the recent pullback in energy prices, especially with winter on the way. John Augustine, chief investment strategist at
Fifth Third Asset Management
, says he is "thankful to see '$1's' on gasoline signs again in many parts of the country."
Wayne Wicker, chief investment officer at
funds, calls the recent drop in oil prices "a nice holiday present for the already overleveraged consumer."
Finally, there are those managers, like Mike Mara of the
Penn Street Advisors Sector Rotational fund, who are thankful for some of the individual winners in their portfolio.
"When I'm enjoying a big slice of apple pie this Thanksgiving, I'm going to be thankful for buying
last year," Mara says.
Hold the Stuffing
Successful investing is not always about buying the right stocks, however. As any fund manager will attest, the key to long-term success often revolves around what
to stuff into your portfolio.
John Lekas, portfolio manager for the
Leader Short-Term Bond fund, is thankful he avoided emerging-market bonds in the wake of a rally in the U.S. dollar.
"The dollar is up 14% and it's going higher, with more rate hikes before Greenspan goes away," says Lekas. "That destroys any gains in emerging market paper."
Meanwhile, Michael Barron, manager of the
Quaker Capital Opportunities, is grateful that he "successfully invested in health care without stepping on a big-cap pharma land mine like
May the Lord Bless ... Eliot Spitzer?
Thanksgiving may not be a religious holiday, but a number of fund managers are preparing a special version of grace for this Thursday's celebration, one that includes a few names not normally associated with pilgrims, Indians and Plymouth Rock.
"I'm thankful for the appointment of Ben Bernanke," says Axel Merk, portfolio manager for the
Merk Hard Currency fund. "He'll help my gold investments by maintaining Greenspan's policy of keeping the U.S. awash in liquidity."
Jim McGlynn, portfolio manager for the
Summit Everest fund, plans to praise a different set of bigwigs, however. "I'm going to thank people like Carl Icahn and Sumner Redstone for finally realizing that gigantic media companies like
can be split up to increase shareholder value."
And then, of course, no holiday meal could get started without a nod to Mr. Thanksgiving himself, Eliot Spitzer.
"I'm thankful for Eliot Spitzer this year," says David Clark of the Piedmont Select Value fund. "When he went after insurance companies, it gave me a fantastic opportunity to buy a quality company like
on the cheap."
"Amen to Eliot Spitzer running for governor of New York," says Fifth Third's Augustine, who adds that he's also giving thanks that the "U.S. Congress will soon be going home for the holidays."
And God Bless Texas, Too!
Considering the volatility that the country and the market has experienced in 2005 -- and we're not talking about the jump in volatility for which Matthew Kelmon of the options-based
Kelmoore Strategy fund is so grateful -- it should come as no surprise that a large number of fund managers are simply happy to see stocks even in slightly positive territory at this point.
"The market has risen this year in the face of hurricanes, rising interest rates, a falling real estate market, avian flu, a foreign war and whatever else has been thrown against it," says Jim Huguet,
fund manager of TA IDEX Great Companies-America. "Now that's something to be thankful for."
And despite all the turbulence in the world, Thanksgiving remains an all-American holiday signifying not only an opportunity to give thanks, but a sense of homecoming.
"Thanksgiving reminds us of why we should be proud to be Americans," says Don Hodges, portfolio manager of the Dallas-based
Hodges adds that he's especially thankful for being able to call Texas his home "more this year than ever."
Why is that?
Well, more than 35% of the companies in the Hodges fund are based in his native Lone Star state. They have led the fund to a return of more than 15% this year, compared with a 3.5% gain for the
Of course, you can be sure Hodges will be thankful if there is a Dallas Cowboys victory over the Denver Broncos on Thursday afternoon as well.