Superstar stock picker to manage new mutual fund

The prominent fund manager’s investment style is built on relationships with management

Superstar stock picker to manage new mutual fund
Canadian investors now have access to one of the world’s most popular market-beating managers thanks to a new mutual fund offering.

Will Danoff – who manages the (US) Fidelity Contrafund, the largest active fund run by one person in the world – has been announced as the manager of the newly launched Fidelity Insights Class, reports the Globe and Mail.

Calling the new product a “best of Fidelity,” Danoff is initially targeting around 75 unnamed picks for the US stock-heavy global fund. The estimated management expense ratio for the B-series vehicle is about 2.4%.

A hallmark of his investment style is to reach out and forge relationships with management, developing a deeper-than-average understanding of companies’ growth prospects. “You can ask questions about the competition, about the whole industry,” he said, reckoning that he’s met with around 35,000 firms over three decades of managing funds.

Since Danoff took the reins on Contrafund in 1990, the fund has posted an average annual return of 12.7% net of fees, which has allowed its assets to grow from $300 million to $103 billion over that time.

Some of the biggest companies in which he managed to invest relatively early include Google and Facebook, both answering his requests for meetings because of his track record and the Contrafund’s sheer size.

“Everybody thinks I’m good,” Danoff said. I’m just the biggest.”

Looking into the future, he sees reasons to be confident in continued lucrative returns from big winners.

“With rates going back up and oil prices rebounded, I think you’re going to see some growth. We’re seeing a lot of IPOs,” he said. “In terms of identifying new market leaders, I think we’re in a rich environment.”

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