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Market Neutral Mutual Fund May Close to New Investors

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In what qualifies these days as a man bites dog story, TFS Capital announced March 13 that it would close its TFS Market Neutral Fund (Ticker: TFSMX) to new investors when it reaches the $600 million to $650 million in net assets level; as of the announcement, TFSMX had $475 million in assets. At year-end 2008, the fund had $403 million in assets. Advisors who have already invested in the fund on behalf of clients will still be able to buy shares in TFSMX for existing and new clients.

The no-load fund, which has an initial minimum investment of $5,000, had an average annual return of 7.54% from inception in September 2004 through the end of February 2009, compared to the S&P 500′s negative 7.13% return. From February 28, 2008 through February 28, 2009, the fund returned a negative 7.87% compared to the S&P 500′s negative 43.32%. For the three years through February 28, 2009, the fund returned 6.41% compared to a negative 15.11% for the S&P 500 index.

The company stresses that this outperformance was accompanied by less volatility than the overall market and lower correlation to most other common indexes. The fund’s standard deviation was 8.8% compared to the S&P’s 23.2%.

However, as you might expect from a long/short fund with high turnover, TFSMX is not cheap: it has a gross expense ratio of 4.60%, which the fund’s investment advisor has reduced to 2.49%.