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Tags: Pimco | MetWest | Gross | fund

Pimco's Loss Is MetWest Gain as New Gross Fund Slow to Win Cash

Thursday, 09 October 2014 10:33 AM

Pimco’s pain isn’t Bill Gross’s gain, at least not yet.

The Janus Global Unconstrained Fund, managed by Gross, received $66.4 million in September, according to Morningstar Inc., a fraction of the $23.5 billion that left his former fund at Pacific Investment Management Co. Among the early winners is a handful of funds including the $36 billion Metropolitan West Total Return Fund, run by former Pimco managers, which gathered $1.5 billion last month and has attracted more money in October.

Gross’s resignation on Sept. 26 from the firm he co-founded more than four decades ago triggered record redemptions from his Pimco Total Return fund. That money hasn’t immediately followed Gross to his as-yet-unproven fund, as investors parked assets in money funds and exchange-traded funds. They’ve also poured into top-performing mutual funds with an established track record, such as MetWest Total Return, which has beaten 91 percent of its peers in the past five years.

The MetWest fund is a logical choice because “they have had good solid performance and consistent results for a long time,” said Michael Rosen, chief investment officer at Angeles Investment Advisors LLC in Santa Monica, California, who oversees $45 billion for endowments and pensions.

Much of the money that left Pimco wasn’t immediately reinvested in bond mutual funds, a report Wednesday suggested. Taxable bond funds in the U.S. saw redemptions of $21 billion in the week ended Oct. 1, the highest in records dating to the start of 2007, according to the Investment Company Institute, a Washington-based trade group.

Money Funds

Money fund assets climbed by $22.8 billion in the week ended Oct. 1, according to the ICI, the fastest pace in 2014. A BlackRock Inc. exchange-traded fund that invests in traditional fixed income, the iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF, drew almost $1.6 billion since Sept. 25, according to data from ETF.com.

A small group of bond mutual funds have also received new money. The MetWest fund has added $3.4 billion in assets from the day of Gross’s departure from Pimco through Oct. 7. That’s more than any intermediate-term bond fund that reports assets on a daily basis, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Other intermediate bond funds that have grown since Sept. 25, the day before Gross left, include the $36.9 billion DoubleLine Total Return Fund, up $1.8 billion; the $25.7 billion JPMorgan Core Bond Fund, up $846 million; and the $11 billion Western Asset Core Plus Bond Fund, up $653 million. A small portion of the funds’ boost in assets came from performance gains, the data show.

Plentiful Choices

Gross, who managed the $201.6 billion Pimco Total Return Fund, the world’s largest bond fund, left Pimco for Janus Capital Group Inc. after his deputies threatened to quit and management debated his ouster, people familiar with the matter said at the time. Gross, who in 2010 was named Morningstar Inc.’s fixed-income manager of the decade, oversaw the fund since its 1987 inception.

“Investors don’t lack for choices in traditional bond funds,” Steven Roge, a money manager at Bohemia, New York-based R.W. Roge & Co. said in a telephone interview. Roge, who oversees $240 million, withdrew money from Pimco Total Return the day Gross resigned.

The Janus unconstrained fund, which has the flexibility to invest across fixed-income securities globally, started in May. Last month’s investor subscriptions bring assets at the fund to $79.1 million, according to Morningstar. William Katz, an analyst at Citigroup Inc., questioned how big a draw Gross would be.

“The market has already anticipated $25 billion to $50 billion in new assets at Janus,” Katz wrote in an Oct. 3 report, “setting up for possible disappointment.”

DoubleLine Inflows

The three longest-serving managers on the MetWest fund all worked at Pimco in the 1990s before joining MetWest, which was acquired by Los Angeles-based TCW Group Inc. in 2009. The MetWest fund, started in 1997 by Tad Rivelle, Stephen Kane and Laird Landmann, has advanced 4.9 percent this year, compared with 3.9 percent for Pimco Total Return, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The DoubleLine Total Return Fund, run by Jeffrey Gundlach, gained 5.9 percent this year. The MetWest fund and the DoubleLine offering have both beaten Gross over three years as well.

DoubleLine Capital LP said on Oct. 1 that its mutual funds collected $1.65 billion in new money in September, the biggest month for contributions this year. The Los Angeles-based firm’s Total Return fund reaped $1.3 billion of that.

‘Above Average’

“The flows for October continue to be above average,” Ronald Redell, president of DoubleLine Funds, said in a telephone interview.

At Western Asset’s parent, Baltimore-based Legg Mason Inc., the news about Gross produced a measurable impact.

“Our pipeline has exploded,” Jeffrey Masom, co-head of U.S. sales, said in a telephone interview. Some investors have made verbal commitments to put money into the firm’s bond funds while others have invited Legg Mason to make presentations, he said.

The Western Asset Core Plus Bond Fund outperformed Pimco Total Return this year and over the past three and five years. Western Asset Management, the bond unit at Legg Mason, had $471 billion as of Aug. 31.

Douglas Swanson, manager of the JPMorgan Core Bond Fund since 1991, said his fund’s consistent long-term record is appealing to investors. The fund has annualized returns of 5.8 percent in the past 15 years, according to Morningstar.

“People are coming to us,” Swanson said in a telephone interview.

Pimco Lesson

In a 2012 interview with Bloomberg News, MetWest managers Rivelle, Kane and Landmann said they learned a valuable lesson from their time at Pimco: to produce market-beating performance consistently, a fund has to stick to a disciplined approach year after year.

The MetWest team chose to pursue that goal differently from their Pimco mentors. Gross is known for his big-picture judgments about interest rates and the global economy, while the MetWest managers focus on market segments and individual securities that look mispriced.

“They are top down, and we are bottom up,” Kane said in that interview.

Like value stock investors, the MetWest managers buy bonds they see as bargains based on long-term fundamentals and sell them when prospects for more gains diminish. Both the buying and selling are done gradually, which mitigates risk and smooths out returns, Rivelle explained in the same 2012 interview.

“There is not much macro in what they do,” said Rosen of Angeles Investment.

Mortgage Bonds

During the 2008 financial crisis, the fund bought bank bonds and mortgages not guaranteed by the U.S. government. Both investments translated into gains as the economy recovered.

The fund had 36 percent of its assets in mortgages and 28 percent in U.S. government bonds as of June 30, according to the TCW website. The team has been scaling back its riskier investments over the past two years, based on the idea that at this stage of the credit cycle, increased leverage and looser underwriting standards could lead to trouble.

“The time for the risk-on trade was four or five years ago,” Rivelle said in a May 29 interview.

‘Team Approach’

Over the past five years and 10 years, the MetWest fund outperformed Pimco Total Return, data from Chicago-based Morningstar show. Gross’s fund did slightly better over 15 years.

“We believe the strong flows into our fixed-income funds are a result of our team approach, heritage of that team and outstanding performance,” Doug Morris, a spokesman for Los Angeles-based TCW, said by e-mail.

Carlyle Group LP, the Washington-based money manager that has been expanding its fund offerings, agreed to buy 60 percent of TCW in 2012. TCW has about $145 billion in assets, including $100 billion in fixed income, Morris said.

© Copyright 2021 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Pimco's pain isn't Bill Gross's gain, at least not yet. The Janus Global Unconstrained Fund, managed by Gross, received $66.4 million in September, according to Morningstar Inc., a fraction of the $23.5 billion that left his former fund at Pacific Investment Management Co.
Pimco, MetWest, Gross, fund
Thursday, 09 October 2014 10:33 AM
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