Reblog: YES, MUTUAL FUNDS CAN STAND OUT FROM THE HERD


Forbes Magazine, Dec. 19, 1994

At the typical stock-fund office, phalanxes of computer screens glow like the control room of a nuclear reactor. The portfolio manager is an intense young MBA. He can recite earnings estimates by rote for each of the 100 stocks in his billion-dollar fund. He’s a high-pressure guy, the atmosphere is electric with excitement, and the phones are always ringing. All this costs money, but the managers have to justify themselves. What are they for if not to trade in and out of stocks?

Yet all this striving does nothing for most fund investors. Although the industry has its good years, over long periods of time the average U.S. stock fund does worse than a market index. No wonder: Typical annual expenses run to 1.3% of assets.

George Mairs, 66, does things differently. Mairs & Power, Inc., founded by Mairs’ father in 1931, has nine employees and runs a total of $300 millon out of the old First National Bank Building in St. Paul, Minn. Nearly all that money is in separate accounts. Mairs & Power Growth Fund has $41 million in assets; a balanced mutual fund, Mairs & Power Income Fund, runs $13 million.

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