Pimco Total Return Bond Fund Looks Less Scary as Outflows Ebb

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Pimco's Total Return Bond Fund looks like a safer bet now that it is losing assets at a slower pace than it did immediately following the departure of Bill Gross for Janus Capital Group (JNS) , according to a Morningstar analyst who tracks outflows at the fund.

Pimco announced Tuesday the fund, with assets of $162.8 billion at the end of November, lost $9.5 billion -- a big number, but 65% less than the October number.

The fund is likely to continue to lose assets "for the next several months," according to Morningstar analyst Tim Strauts. Still, he notes the fund was in the top 1% of comparable funds in terms of performance over the last month.

"Even though they been losing assets, they've been able to manage their portfolio, which is all investors really care about," Strauts says.

Strauts adds that withdrawals can affect performance eventually if they force a fund to lay off employees who are critical to its success. However, Pimco is "nowhere near that point," he says. He believes "several hundred billion dollars more would have to leave the firm in general -- not just the Total Return Fund -- before they would need to start looking at their staffing."

Pimco had $1.87 trillion in assets under management at the end of September. Gross left the company Sept. 26.

Strauts said  Pimco has done a good job retaining staff since Gross quit the company, and it still has one of the largest trading desks in the bond market.

Morningstar has continued to recommend Pimco's Total Return bond fund to investors ever since Gross left Pimco amid an acrimonious environment that has been the subject of several news reports. Morningstar downgraded the fund two notches to bronze from gold when Gross resigned.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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