JPMorgan Mid Cap Growth’s team has the experience and ability needed to prosper even after its longtime lead manager retires, earning most share classes a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Bronze, while the two most expensive ones earn Neutral.
A logical successor will take the reins when veteran manager Tim Parton retires in early 2024. Felise Agranoff, who has comanaged this strategy since year-end 2015, will assume Parton’s role. It’s a position she is well prepared for. She has spent her entire 18-year career at J.P. Morgan and has worked alongside Parton for the vast majority of it. She earned her position as comanager thanks to strong performance as an analyst on the firm’s small- and mid-cap growth team. The fund’s results since she joined Parton as comanager are strong relative to mid-cap growth Morningstar Category peers and the Russell Midcap Growth Index category benchmark. While Parton maintained final say on trading activity, the two state that they collaborate on decisions. It's a plus that Parton has given a long lead time to facilitate the transition.
Agranoff has gained a partner in newly named comanager Daniel Bloomgarden. Bloomgarden has served as a consumer analyst for seven years on the strategy and brings 25 years of industry experience to the table. Bloomgarden’s consumer picks have stood out over his tenure.
Agranoff developed under Parton’s mentorship, and the two say they are philosophically aligned. That being said, there are minor differences. For instance, Parton at times may be more inclined to invest in a stock or industry that is out of favor or trading cheaply but with no apparent catalyst to recover. Parton pushed the portfolio back into the energy sector in mid-2021, which proved to be prescient timing as that sector subsequently rallied. However, such trades are likely to be on the margin, as the bulk of ideas should come from traditional growth sectors such as technology, healthcare, and consumer regardless of the market environment.
Unlike many growth-oriented rivals, this strategy has performed well over both phases of the recent growth-stock boom-bust cycle. It captured strong gains when growth was rallying in 2019 and 2020 but also has survived relatively well during the growth-stock pullback in 2021 and 2022. Parton and crew reduced exposure to high-growth stocks in time to avoid most of the subsequent carnage. It remains to be seen whether Agranoff can replicate such successful calls under her own watch, but her background gives her a reasonable shot.