The Best Fund Managers of 2018

The Wall Street Journal published its Winner’s Circle list of the top stock-fund managers for last year, noting that despite the S&P 500 having the worst December since 1931 and U.S. stock funds averaging a loss of 7.73% for the year, “a handful of managers emerged as big winners, posting double-digit gains for the year.”

To name the winners, the Journal identifies the most successful actively managed U.S. stock funds with at least $50 million in assets and a track record of at least three years (for the previous 12 months, based on Morningstar data). No index, sector or leveraged funds are included.

The article listed the following winners:

  • Fidelity’s Advisor Series Growth Opportunities Fund and Advisor Growth Opportunities Fund, which saw returns for the year of 17.03% and 13.82%, respectively;
  • North Star Investment Management Corp.’s Copley Fund (approximately $88 million in assets) which the article reports “benefited significantly from its ownership of utilities” and gained 15.65% for the year;
  • Alger Small Cap Focus Fund, “an outperformer from the small-stock category that dominated most of 2018” with gains of 14.15% for the year;
  • Morgan Stanley’s Institutional Mid Cap Growth fund and Multi Cap Growth fund, which gained 12.14% and 11.18%, respectively. According to their fund managers, these are both comprised of “unique businesses.”

The article pointed out that “in contrast to most of our previous Winners’ Circle contests, however, this quarter’s top-performing funds proved to be a motley group, with little in common.” But it adds that a common thread is present: “Owning stocks for the long term and reaping rewards only after many years may be the single factor linking many of this quarter’s top-performing managers.”