Loomis Sayles is focused on succession planning for lead bond manager and vice chairman Dan Fuss, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.
While Fuss is still going strong at 86 years old—referred to as the “Warren Buffett of bonds” by Alianz’s Mohamed El-Erian–the article reports that the firm is preparing for the bond fund co-heads Matthew Eagan and Elaine Stokes to take over when Fuss steps down.
Fuss is legendary in the bond world, the article notes, adding: “His reputation as a bond picker is based on meticulous credit research.” Loomis’s flagship bond fund, which Fuss began managing at its launch in 1991, has reportedly earned cumulative gains of more than double that of its benchmark. The fund invests in high-yield bonds, stocks and currencies, the article explains, depending on what Fuss’s research shows might perform well. But the strategy can go against the grain of some investors—the article cites the example of Fuss’s 2002 bet on the trampled telecom sector which proved too scary for the head of IBM’s pension fund—who subsequently pulled more than $1 billion from Loomis Sayles.
Fuss began his career in 1958 and, according to the article, “became an early practitioner in the 1960s of managing mixed stock and fixed-income portfolios, applying stock-market concepts—such as value investing—to bonds.” At the time, most investors avoided bonds that traded below face value, but Fuss contended “they could be profitable investments if one understood the fundamentals of their business and industry.”