For those of you jones-ing for a little more news from fund familyJanus, the firm delivered.
Janus Capital Group
announced Friday that manager Warren Lammertwill end his 13-year tenure with the firm at the end of March.
The 41-year-old Lammert, who most managed the $4.7 billion
Janus Mercury fund since 1993, is leaving to pursue "investment management opportunity outside of the mutual fund industry," according to a statement issued by Janus. David Corkins,manager of the strong-performing $5.2 billion
Janus Growth and Income fund, will assume management of Mercury as of Feb. 28. Lammert will stay on until March 31.
Corkins, 36, joined Janus in March 1995, and assisted Lammert in managingthe Mercury fund from 1997 until 2001. In addition to his newresponsibilities with Mercury, Corkins will continue to manage Growth andIncome, assisted by Minyoung Sohn on both funds.
For a while it seemed the dust had settled at the struggling behemoth fundfamily. After massive outflows that put it in the top 25 funds in terms ofmoney lost, it
won a protracted battle to wrest control from parent company Stilwell Financial -- only to have the deal contested by its largest shareholder, hedge fund Highland Capital Management.
Mercury has held up better than other Janus offerings. While it has been hammered during the past three years -- its negative 29.5% average annual return ranks in the bottom 12% of all large-cap growth funds -- it looks better over the long haul. Its five-year average annual positive return of 0.76% puts the fund in the top 9% of its peer group.
Given Corkins' familiarity with Mercury and his eight years atJanus, there's little reason for investors to be concerned. The managementstyle of the fund isn't expected to change, so current or potential Mercuryinvestors shouldn't view this as a warning sign. Observers looking for alittle schadenfreude, though, might enjoy the news.