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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wasatch to Close its First Ever Acquisition Next Week

News summary by MFWire's editors

Wasatch Advisors expects to finish its acquisition of three 1st Source Monogram Funds on December 15. The deal, first announced in August (see The MFWire, August 26, 2008), marks Salt Lake City-based Wasatch's first purchase since its founding in 1975.

The funds will continue to be managed by their current portfolio managers.
Company Press Release

Salt Lake City, Utah (December 10, 2008) – Wasatch Advisors today announced that they expect to complete the acquisition* of the three 1st Source Monogram Funds on December 15, 2008. The 1st Source Monogram Funds will be renamed as follows:

· Wasatch – 1st Source Income Equity Fund (FMIEX)

A large cap value fund focused on long term capital appreciation, with income as a secondary objective. Among Morningstar’s Large Value category this is a 5-Star Fund (overall rating out of 1346 funds), whose 10, 5, and 3-year total return peer rankings are in the top 1%, 1%, and 3% respectively (out of 808, 1233, and 1346 funds) as of 11/30/08.

· Wasatch – 1st Source Long/Short Fund (FMLSX)

A long/short fund focused on long-term growth of capital with an emphasis on providing better risk-adjusted returns and lower volatility. This fund has outperformed the S&P 500 by over 14 percentage points so far in 2008.

· Wasatch – 1st Source Income Fund (FMEQX)

An intermediate-term bond fund focused on current income and long-term capital preservation. This fund has consistently outperformed its peer group.

The Wasatch – 1st Source Funds will continue to be managed by their current portfolio managers Ralph C. Shive, CFA, Michael L. Shinnick, and Paul D. Gifford, CFA, respectively, using the same disciplined process that helped them achieve their highly regarded long-term results. It is also expected that all three funds will enjoy a lower total expense ratio once they become part of the Wasatch Funds family. The ticker symbols are not changing.

Said Sam Stewart, chairman and chief investment officer of Wasatch Advisors, “We are excited to add these well-managed funds to our line up. They add diversification opportunities for our investors, but more importantly, Ralph Shive and Mike Shinnick are proven, skilled investors from which all of the Wasatch Funds will benefit in our collaborative research culture.”

Ralph Shive and Mike Shinnick will join Wasatch Advisors as part of the transaction, while Paul Gifford, portfolio manager of the Income Fund will remains employed by 1st Source Corporation Investment Advisors and act as sub-adviser to the Wasatch – 1st Source Income Fund.

Said Ralph Shive, portfolio manager of the Wasatch 1st Source Income Equity Fund, “We are pleased to be joining an organization focused exclusively on performing high-quality investment research. Being a part of a bigger investment team will allow Mike and me to focus on what we love, exploring investment opportunities."

Shive has managed the Income Equity Fund since its inception in 1996. Said Shive, "We take a common sense, logical approach to investing. We look to make intelligent decisions and are not driven to simply beat the averages. We are skeptical of what the crowd is doing and look for areas of over exuberance and despair. We seek to understand motivations and look for the inflection point when growth will turn in the other direction."

About the recent challenging market environment, Shive said, "Before October, we were predicting a turn sometime in 2009, but now it is difficult to determine when we will see a recovery. We believe we are already 12 months into this downturn and there are still several months to go. While stock prices are compelling and we are finding some of the best values we’ve seen since the mid 1970s, we are paying close attention to global demand which has collapsed. We will continue to keep some cash and focus on dividends and total return in this period of slow or negative economic growth."

Said Michael Shinnick, portfolio manager of the Wasatch 1st Source Long/Short Fund, “Until September our fund had a positive return for the year. At that time, both our longs and our shorts were working. While we wish we would have had more shorts in recent months, the positions we had helped us lose significantly less than the S&P, which is a goal of the fund in down markets. We try to participate in the market's upside and reduce the risk on the downside.” Shinnick has managed the Long-Short Fund since its inception in 2003.

In this environment, both Shive and Shinnick said they are investing in more defensive stocks – companies with good cash flow and solid balance sheets. Said Shinnick, “An example is Waste Management (NYSE:WMI), the largest U.S. waste hauler and landfill operator in the U.S. The business is characterized by slow growth, steady margins and high cash flows. It is inherently local and stable, and they do not face price competition from overseas or rapid technological change. Plus there is limited landfill capacity near major population areas.

In addition to the Income Equity Fund and the Long-Short Fund, the addition of the Wasatch - 1st Source Income Fund adds a top-performing bond fund to the Wasatch line up. Managed by Paul Gifford since 2000, the Income Fund invests in investment-grade intermediate-term bonds. The fund distributes income monthly and seeks to preserve capital. Said Gifford, “So far in 2008, the Fund has produced a positive return in a very difficult environment." 

Edited by: Armie Margaret Lee

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