MetWest Tops Pimco Total Return as Largest Active Bond Fund

  • Assets at Pimco fund have dropped 73% from their peak in 2013
  • Investors pulled $4.6 billion from bond funds as rates jumped

Pimco Total Return Fund, once the world’s largest mutual fund under former manager Bill Gross, is now the second-biggest actively managed bond fund as client withdrawals and investment losses reduced holdings.

The Pacific Investment Management Co. fund fell to $78.5 billion in assets as of Nov. 30 after it lost 2.6 percent during the month and investors pulled about $2 billion, according to Bloomberg estimates. Pimco Total Return has shrunk 73 percent from its peak in April 2013. The Metropolitan West Total Return Bond Fund, which is run by three former Pimco managers, is now No. 1 with $79.4 billion as of Dec. 2.

Fixed-income funds lost money as interest rates surged following the surprise Nov. 8 election of Donald Trump, whose policies are expected to drive up U.S. deficits and inflation. Investors pulled an estimated $4.6 billion from taxable-bond funds in the four weeks from Oct. 27 to Nov. 22, the most recent data available, according to the Washington-based Investment Company Institute.

Doug Morris, a spokesman for Los Angeles-based TCW Group, which acquired Metropolitan West in 2009, declined to comment. Agnes Crane, a spokeswoman for Newport Beach, California-based Pimco, also declined to comment.

Investors pulled roughly $400 million during November from the MetWest fund, according to Bloomberg’s calculations. The fund lost 2.1 percent in the month.

Estimates for the Pimco and MetWest fund flows are based on the changes in assets that aren’t accounted for by performance or reinvested dividends. The numbers may vary from actual figures and from estimates compiled by other data providers.

Gundlach’s Fund

Investors redeemed $1.4 billion in November from the DoubleLine Total Return Bond Fund, the largest outflow at the fund managed by Jeffrey Gundlach since December 2013, Los Angeles-based DoubleLine Capital said last week.

The MetWest fund advanced 2.3 percent this year through last week, compared with a return of 1.9 percent for Pimco Total Return and 2.1 percent for DoubleLine Total Return.

Assets at Pimco Total Return, which oversaw as much as $293 billion three years ago, began declining as investors withdrew money amid fears of rising interest rates. Withdrawals accelerated after the acrimonious departure of Gross, the firm’s co-founder, in September 2014.

Investors added about $600 million in November to the Pimco Income Fund, according to Bloomberg estimates, bringing assets to $68.2 billion at the mutual fund co-managed by Dan Ivascyn, who succeeded Gross as Pimco’s chief investment officer. Pimco Income returned 7.6 percent this year through Dec. 2, outperforming 89 percent of its Bloomberg peers.

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