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Fund Times

PIMCO's Maisonneuve to Exit; Pathfinder Fund to Shutter

While PIMCO remains committed to equities, the firm likely will direct more energies toward enhanced-indexing strategies.

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PIMCO on Thursday announced several major changes to its equities business, including the departure of global equities chief investment officer Virginie Maisonneuve and the liquidation of several funds, including  PIMCO EqS Pathfinder (PATHX), which has a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Neutral.

PIMCO claims it isn't throwing in the towel on equities entirely, and, in a statement, PIMCO CEO Douglas Hodge affirmed a commitment to stocks. In addition, for the past decade, PIMCO has worked with the firm Research Affiliates on fundamentally indexed strategies. In January, PIMCO announced plans to develop seven more equity products that will be a part of the PIMCO Fundamental IndexPLUS AR group of strategies.

Maisonneuve, 50, joined PIMCO in January 2014 from Schroders plc, where she had served as head of global and international equities. Prior to that, Maisonneuve had worked at several firms, including Clay Finlay, State Street, and Batterymarch Financial.

Now, Maisonneuve will remain with PIMCO for a transition period and then leave the firm after that time.

The liquidation of the $886 million PIMCO EqS Pathfinder is unusual given its sheer size, and it clearly signals some changes on the horizon for the kinds of equity funds that PIMCO is interested in. Up to now, PIMCO EqS Pathfinder had been at the core of PIMCO's stock effort.

PIMCO EqS Pathfinder had produced weak performance. The fund was launched in April 2010, and, until Thursday's announcement, it had been managed by Anne Gudefin, who had employed a bottom-up, unconstrained value strategy in selecting stocks. Gudefin's comanager, Charles Lahr, left PIMCO in January 2014, leaving Gudefin to captain the fund solo since that time. However, Gudefin, who joined PIMCO in January 2010 from Franklin, has not acquitted herself well, generating annualized returns of 7.83% in the five-year period ended May 13, 2015. That lags fully 89% of world-stock peers during that time frame. And while the market hasn't been that friendly to Gudefin's admittedly cautious style over the past half-decade, the fund also has trailed her previous world-stock funds, Silver-rated  Franklin Mutual Global Discovery (TEDIX) and Silver-rated  Franklin Mutual Quest (TEQIX).

PIMCO also announced on Thursday that it will liquidate two very small funds: PIMCO EqS Emerging Markets (PEQAX) and PIMCO Emerging Multi-Asset (PEAAX). Maisonneuve has been the manager for PIMCO EqS Emerging Markets, while Michael Gomez and Curtis Mewbourne are the named managers on the emerging multiasset offering.

According to a filing, PIMCO will cease selling new shares in the three funds on June 15, and the funds will liquidate on or about July 15.

Robert Goldsborough does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.