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Mutual Fund News

Small-cap funds delivered big returns in 2009

swon@globeandmail.com

WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR?

Canadian stock funds at the top of the performance heap.

Equity funds of all stripes in this group have bounced back from the March lows triggered by last year's devastating stock market collapse and credit crunch.

Keep in mind that the best performers this year may not necessarily be the most consistent performers annually, and may be more volatile than some of their peers.

TODAY'S SEARCH

We asked Victor Tan, a fund analyst at Globe Investor, to screen Canadian equity, Canadian focused equity, Canadian dividend and income equity, Canadian small- or mid-cap and Canadian focused small-to-mid-cap funds to find the top 30 performers in the first 11 months of 2009. U.S. dollar, segregated, pooled and duplicate funds were excluded.

WHAT DID WE FIND?

Small is beautiful this year.

Most of the top performing funds were those investing in smaller companies. They were also among those that got heavily pounded during last year's meltdown.

Investing in some of these funds at the end of last year would have turned in a nice profit if you could stomach plowing money into investments that had lost a third to half of their value.

Front Street Growth Fund, run by manager Normand Lamarche of Front Street Capital, was the top performer with a nearly 116-per-cent gain for the first 11 months. His similarly run Front Street Small Cap Fund gained 92 per cent. Both funds have benefited from rebounding resource stocks, particularly oil companies.

Raymond James Canadian Focus Picks, which has climbed 112 per cent, is a mutual fund that invests in the best stocks rated a "strong buy" or "outperform" by analysts at brokerage firm Raymond James. Investors can check out current fund holdings at http://www.firsttrust.ca. They range from names like Bankers Petroleum Ltd. and Connacher Oil and Gas Ltd. to recent additions like Methanex Corp. and Finning International Inc.

Van Arbor Canadian Advantage Fund, which climbed nearly 99 per cent, was one of the few larger company Canadian stock funds that made the list. In a market commentary, manager Andrew Parkinson of Van Arbor Asset Management Ltd. said that food companies had become an increasing part of his concentrated portfolio. Some of the big winners last month in the fund included grocery giants like Loblaw Cos. Ltd. and Metro Inc.

"Even as the market flattened out since September, we continue to see a stock picker's market with select value opportunities plentiful outside the attention grabbing index movers [like gold in November]," Mr. Parkinson said.

*****

Top 30 Canadian Large & Small Cap Funds as of Nov. 30
As of
Nov./09
AssetsLatestYTD Calendar Year Returns %
Fund$ milsMER(Nov. 30)20082007200620052004200320022001
Front Street Growth122.12.73115.6-53.5-1.320.747.424.362.424.29.3
Raymond James Cdn Focus 3.72.84111.6
Van Arbor Cdn Advantage2.0098.5-36.16.68.635.4
Front Street Small Cap13.52.5092.116.6
Investors Cdn Growth188.92.8572.3-53.412.0
Stone & Co. Growth Ind.1.23.1070.1-55.3-2.14.35.532.237.1
Scotia Canadian Small Cap54.82.4567.0-47.9-0.810.622.211.844.0-16.1-0.1
Sprott Small Cap Equity118.02.9463.4-53.1
Acuity All Cap 30 Cdn307.82.9160.5-57.713.626.210.121.367.20.64.8
Mackenzie Saxon Microcap2.63.3860.0-41.1
Frk Tmp Cdn Small Cap0.52.7859.8-61.05.528.618.9
Brickburn Small Cap5.04.4759.8
Acuity Cdn Small Cap84.02.9458.5-59.09.437.2
National Bank Small Cap528.52.3557.9-37.66.914.62.89.643.6-5.76.6
Mackenzie Growth319.22.4056.8-59.98.311.910.517.723.214.226.1
Redwood Diversified2.9855.5-44.617.020.219.9
SEI Cdn Small Company134.40.1755.4-45.49.517.720.717.037.60.6
Investors Cdn Small Cap565.82.8555.1-43.315.32.216.711.621.8-6.82.6
Norrep Fund82.12.5854.5-51.119.925.732.425.043.920.723.5
Resolute Performance440.02.9454.4-57.9-5.143.1
Sceptre Equity Growth71.454.1-53.318.140.521.327.068.010.9
Investors Cdn Large Cap2633.82.8553.8-35.51.011.926.013.515.6-9.010.0
Beutel Goodman Small Cap294.41.4153.5-29.02.020.99.913.536.3-3.226.7
TD Cdn Small Cap Equity439.12.4253.4-39.02.28.712.05.522.2-5.311.9
Mackenzie Saxon Small Cap131.32.0553.4-45.5-6.616.312.017.438.44.724.1
Fidelity Special Situations113.72.4953.0-33.2
Bissett Small Cap42.71.7352.7-42.1-8.24.932.728.221.59.211.1
Dynamic Power Cdn Growth1.3352.6-50.926.427.029.317.937.0
Fidelity Cdn Opportunities174.32.4952.5-36.612.08.816.816.429.3-4.50.6
Investors Cdn Small Cap134.32.6852.5-51.7-0.315.010.56.4
S&P 500 Composite ($ Cdn)4.7-23.8-12.213.6-0.21.53.4-24.0-7.7
S&P/TSX Composite Index27.4-35.07.214.521.912.524.3-14.0-13.9
S&P/TSX Small Cap47.1-47.9-2.96.78.95.833.0-4.33.2
S&P/TSX Total Return31.2-33.09.817.324.114.526.7-12.4-12.6
Source: Globe Investor

© 2007 The Globe and Mail. All rights reserved.

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