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Fund Spy

Artisan International Small-Mid Fund Is Actually Well Worth Checking Out

This restructured fund is far more appealing than is readily apparent.

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 Artisan International Small-Mid (ARTJX), which reopened to new investors in October 2018, does not look very attractive at first glance. This foreign small/mid-growth fund has landed in its Morningstar Category’s bottom quartile three times in the past five calendar years, including the sideways market of 2016, when it lost 12.9% and finished behind every one of its rivals. Consequently, despite a solid showing in 2018’s challenging conditions and a nice start to this year, its three-year and five-year returns through March 31, 2019, are inferior to those of 75% and 93% of foreign small/mid-growth offerings, respectively. This fund’s marked underperformance in recent years has undermined the ample success it had earlier in the 2000s, and its 10-year record is now mediocre. (Its 15-year record is still good.)

But these issues are moot now, because Artisan restructured this fund in late 2018. For starters, Artisan brought on Rezo Kanovich from Oppenheimer in October to run this fund, replacing longtime lead manager Mark Yockey and comanager Charles-Henri Hamker. (Yockey and Hamker remain at Artisan and continue to manage  Artisan International (ARTIX) together, and  Artisan Global Equity (ARTHX) with a third manager.) Kanovich is seasoned and skilled. Indeed, he has 20 years of investment experience and served as the skipper of foreign small/mid-growth fund  Oppenheimer International Small-Mid Company  (OSMAX) from January 2012 to September 2018. That fund comfortably outgained the typical foreign small/mid-growth offering and its MSCI ACWI ex USA SMID Cap benchmark during his tenure. And the two analysts who worked with Kanovich on the Oppenheimer offering for several years--Andres Avalos Vitiello and Samir Mainthia--came with him to Artisan and have solid credentials themselves.

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