Will Danoff, who has managed Fidelity’s $103 billion Contrafund for 25 years, explains his approach: “Find management you trust, find engaging executives, and hang on” (subscription required). He tends to favor large companies in certain industries: “I try to identify companies operating in a capital-efficient way, doing something special.” Danoff is a growth investor, and notes: “I want to pay the cheapest price I can, but I would rather identify companies that will grow their earnings in the next five years and then buy those as cheaply as I can.” “One thing I’ve learned over 25 years,” he says,”is that you have to pay a fair price for a great company. In that way, I’m like a general manager of a sports team. I want players that can execute on the field.”
Looking forward, Danoff is “not convinced this long run in stocks is over.” He explained: “The U.S. is a great long-term story, and U.S. companies, for the most part, are well managed and hopefully will continue to grow. We’ve had a nice run off the bottom in 2009, and we may need a bit of a pause to bounce around.” He continued: “I like to find stocks that fall under the category ‘down and out and getting better.’ . . . I like to find companies that can emerge bigger and better when the cycle turns.”
Danoff’s Contrafund is one of only 10 equity mutual funds whose manager has beaten its benchmark over the past one, three, five, 10, and 25 years. It is also the country’s largest actively managed equity mutual fund. As its manager, Danoff meets or speaks with more than 1,000 companies annually to inform his decisions.