When you hear the name Janus,you probably think of mutual funds. But if you’ve been an investor for more than a decade, you might also associate Janus with the stratospheric returns produced by growth stock funds in the 1990s, followed by the spectacular declines of the early 2000s when the technology bubble burst.
Whether you are a beginning investor or an experienced one, you may have some similar questions about Janus: Did any of their high-flying funds of the 90s return to glory since then? Which are the best Janus funds now?
The Past and Future of Janus
Another association you might make with Janus is their logo and namesake, the two-faced god from Roman mythology. The two faces are not meant to represent conflict or deception but rather of one face looking to the past and one looking the future, which lends itself well to investing concepts.
Janus began about 45 years ago with their flagship fund named, you guessed it, Janus (JANSX). Providing a clue about their future direction, this fund focuses on large-cap stocks with growth potential. The management company and fund adviser, Janus Capital Managment LLC, really began to pick up investor assets in the mid- and late-90s when growth stocks were all the rage.
As I mentioned in my recent article on growth funds market timing, Janus delivered on the high demand of growth stocks in the 90s with funds like Janus Mercury, which was so stigmatized following the tech bust that it later changed its name to Janus Enterprise (JAMRX). From the beginning of 1998 through the end of 1999, JAMRX had a staggering gain of 162.8%, compared to the S&P 500 Index gain of 50.4%. But from 2001 through 2002, JAMRX fell 46.8% compared to a decline on the S&P 500 Index of 31.8%.
Janus’ fall from grace was punctuated by the 2003 mutual fund scandal and lawsuit, along with several other mutual fund companies, where Janus had to pay fines of $262 million for unfair trading practices.
Fast forward about 10 years to today and Janus has more than 350 funds, which includes all share classes and the new acquisitions of INTECH and Perkins Investments. Janus hasn’t changed significantly in terms of its investment style, which is research-based active management. So you won’t find any index funds in the Janus lineup.
To see what Janus has to offer investors today, let’s take a look at the very best of Janus funds in a cross-section of three categories that represent the most prevalent fund types in the Janus family — large-cap domestic stocks, hybrid/allocation, and bonds.