Morningstar downgraded 194 of the investment strategies it covers, while upgrading 76 of them, the firm said Monday in a summary of Morningstar Analyst Rating activity for 641 fund share classes, exchange-traded funds, separately managed accounts and collective investment trusts.
The most significant downgrades made by Morningstar’s manager research group in December were strategies by Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Vanguard. Meanwhile, the standout upgrades were for BlackRock Total Return and the Bernzott Capital U.S. Small Cap Value.
BlackRock Managed Income (BLDIX) debuted with a Bronze rating for its cheapest share classes, while Polaris Global Value (PGVFX) started with a Bronze rating for its only share class.
Goldman Sachs High Yield’s (GSHIX) People and Process ratings were dropped to Below Average and that “dragged” its Morningstar Analyst Rating to Negative for all share classes, according to Dan Culloton, director of manager research-equity strategies at Morningstar.
That strategy’s process “doesn’t stand out, it’s seen a lot of manager changes, and it has posted desultory performance,” he wrote at the Morningstar website. The process tries to create an all-weather portfolio with a “combination of bottom-up and top-down research,” he said, adding: “While lagging like most quality-leaning portfolios do in high-yield rallies, it has failed to deliver much downside protection, and security selection has been mediocre. Current manager Robert Magnuson has been the lead only since September 2019 and a named comanager since 2014. There has been a fair amount of personnel movement in the research ranks around the team, too.”
A significant manager departure, meanwhile, led to the downgrades of several J.P. Morgan strategies overseen by the family’s U.S. behavioral finance group, Culloton wrote. He pointed to the exit of Dennis Ruhl, the group’s former CIO and a portfolio manager on JPMorgan Intrepid Growth (JPGSX), JPMorgan Intrepid Mid Cap (WOOPX), JPMorgan Market Expansion Enhanced Index (PGMIX), JPMorgan Small Cap Core (VSSBX) and JPMorgan U.S. Small Company (JUSSX). Morningstar dropped the ratings for each of the strategies’ analyst ratings to Neutral from Bronze for all share classes.