What gets me going on these mutual funds? Sometimes it is simple email, like this one I got yesterday from
, that I have to share with you.
I'm an active investor trader. Your new column evaluating funds is a terrific idea. Man, you are so right on. I owned (PBNOX) PBHG New Opportunities Fund for most of the time (Quint) Slattery was at the helm. Held on right through the crash with the fund down 55%. ( Editor's note: That sucks, even in the mutual fund world where good is great and bad is the fault of the sector! Hoo-hah!) Slattery quits. I want to hold for the tech rebound, figuring the fund will recover too, but with (Gary) Pilgrim taking over, I have no idea what he's doing. ( Editor's note: Should you? I mean, like, it's your money, not Pilgrim's!) I track an index of the fund's most recently reported top-ten holdings vs. the Nasdaq. The fund significantly underperforms the Nasdaq's rebound, while the most recent "top-ten holdings" outperform the Nasdaq and significantly outperform the actual fund. I call the fund. ( Editor's note: Ted, you are a real glutton for punishment. You mean you actually called the fund expecting a human to talk with you? How can these funds make money if they have that kind of customer service? You are a dreamer.) I ask: "What is his strategy? Has he gone to a large cash position? Has he liquidated the depressed techs? What the heck is he buying that can't keep up with the Nasdaq, when normally he outperforms the fund in spades? Does he have a plan, or is he just playing defense, fearfully bailing out of all of Slattery's aggressive positions?" NO ANSWERS ( Caps: Ted). I'M REFERRED TO A 3-MONTH-OLD ANNUAL REPORT TO MAKE MY DETERMINATION. We individual investors live in a dark world out here. Thank you for shedding some light. The fund-evaluation idea is one of your best ever, and you've had some real winners. Ted
OK, everybody, here's the deal. Send me your mutual fund horror stories. I am not afraid to print them. Heck, in a week I will probably be a fellow shareholder? (see my
new plan about investing in funds to tell all.)
Man, I am sick of these guys. When I think about what I am willing to tell investors in my fund, and what kind of service I provide, it makes me crazy to hear stories like Ted's. Here's something I know, that these folks don't:
It's your money, not theirs.
They are your fiduciary. They work for you. You are not cannon fodder.
Don't forget that; I know I don't.
See Part 1 and Part 2 of Cramer's Smarter Money on mutual funds.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at