Morningstar rates thousands of funds a year, and at least during 2018, several big funds had changes that caused Morningstar to upgrade them, according to a write-up by Russell Kinnel, the firm’s director of manager research. Here are some of the largest funds and what induced the upgrade:
Pimco Total Return (PTTRX): The loss of Bill Gross in 2014 — and along with him, many redemptions — caused Morningstar to reduce the fund at that time to a bronze rating. But this year the firm moved them to gold from silver as they found that not only did the outflows not affect performance, “a credit to the fund’s design and its trading desk,” the fund actually has “outperformed peers and benchmark since Gross’ departure.”
Fidelity Extended Market Index (FSEVX): Cost matters, and in this case Fidelity’s launch of zero-cost funds helped established index funds, Morningstar notes. By lowering fees across the board and eliminating minimums, FSEVX is just five basis points, which is a key reason why Morningstar upped its ranking to gold from silver.
T. Rowe Price Overseas Stock (TROSX): Morningstar increased the rating to silver from bronze due to the portfolio manager’s 11-year record and his goal to “let stock-picking drive performance rather than macro calls.”
Vanguard Strategic Equity (VSEQX): Quants sometimes rule, and this is the case in this fund, which Morningstar increased to silver from bronze. Although it’s been a rough year for quants, Morningstar notes that this fund “is 300 basis points ahead of its benchmark and 400 ahead of its peers. And fees are very close to what you’d pay for an index fund: 0.18%.”
For a full list of upgraded funds from Morningstar, go here.