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Mutual Funds

A Small Fund With Big Gains

Cambiar Aggressive Value scores with a concentrated global strategy.

Cambiar Aggressive Value (CAMAX) may be the top large-company value fund over the past year, but labels can be deceiving. That the fund shows up in this group says more about the peculiarities of Morningstar's categorization system than about what Aggressive Value actually does. It is a highly concentrated global fund that invests in companies of all sizes and can even sell stocks short.

Typically, the fund holds only 15 to 30 stocks. And manager Brian Barish can move nimbly because assets total only $175 million. But if Aggressive Value keeps up its torrid performance -- it rose 16.9% in the first six weeks of 2011 -- it won't stay small for long. In fact, assets have already more than tripled since the end of 2010.

Barish doesn't have a long record at Aggressive Value, which launched in 2007. But he has achieved fine results since 1998 as the lead manager of Cambiar Opportunity (symbol CAMOX). Barish looks for strong companies that trade at bargain prices. After assessing a firm's financial strength, he compares current value ratios -- such as price to earnings and price to book value (assets minus liabilities) -- with their historical ranges. Barish wants to make sure he's getting in at the right time, so he also looks at stock-price patterns.

The fund's biggest holdings at last report: Halliburton, Repsol and Flextronics. Given the fund's narrow focus, expect above-average swings. In 2008, it lost 44%, seven points worse than the market.