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A fund manager finds the direct approach pays off

December 04, 2006

Consider the efforts of Robert Olstein, the mutual fund manager and accounting expert who runs the $1.7 billion Olstein All Cap Value fund, formerly the Financial Alert fund. In recent years, he has waged a letter- writing campaign on executives serving companies whose shares he owns, advising them on how to enhance their performance.

Last month, he started a fund, Olstein Strategic Opportunities, expressly intended to rattle the cages of managers who he says are not operating in the best interest of their shareholders.

Olstein has an enviable record. After fees, All Cap Value's one-year return of 13 percent trails the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index by 1.1 percentage points, but its five-year average annual return of 8.3 percent beats the index by 2.25 points. And the annual average gain of 15.3 percent since its inception 11 years ago is 5.5 points better than the index.

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