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FUND WATCH

Future of Top Fund Suddenly Out of Focus

The longtime manager of FBR Focus, a Kiplinger 25 fund, is leaving to start his own fund.

Chuck Akre, the crusty manager of FBR Focus (symbol FBRVX), a member of the Kiplinger 25, is moving on. Akre will step down as manager of the fund on August 22 and strike out on his own to launch Akre Focus Fund.

Akre has compiled a phenomenal record at FBR Focus since its inception in December 1996. Over the past ten years through July 31, Focus returned an annualized 11%, an average of ten percentage points per year better than Morningstar’s benchmark of funds that concentrate on midsize growth companies. That performance landed the fund in the top 1% of its category. Year-to-date through August 5, the fund returned 28%.

Although he invests in companies with above-average growth, Akre, based in Middleburg, Va., takes care not to overpay for stocks. Moreover, he runs a highly concentrated portfolio with low turnover. At the end of June, for instance, the fund’s ten biggest holdings accounted for two-thirds of its assets. Its big winners this year include AmeriCredit ( ACF ) and CarMax (KMX ), both of which have more than doubled through August 5, and Penn National Gaming (PENN ), up 51%.

FBR has hired away the three Akre Capital Management analysts who had worked on FBR Focus -- Brian Macauley, David Rainey and Ira Rothberg -- and named them as the fund's new co-managers.