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Rating:Cooper Finds a Diamond and Shakes Up a Putnam PM Team Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cooper Finds a Diamond and Shakes Up a Putnam PM Team

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

Aaron Cooper is shaking up Putnam's [profile] small cap equity investing team and approach, which has nearly $3 billion in AUM.

Aaron Cooper
Putnam Investments
CIO, Equities
Today Cooper, Putnam's chief investment officer of equities, confirms two hirings and two impending departures from his small cap team. The moves, which effect all four of Putnam's small cap mutual funds, come four months after Bob Reynolds promoted Cooper to equities CIO and made a host of other changes across the Boston-based mutual fund shop.

"We think that there's a major opportunity for an active manager in the small cap space," Cooper tells MFWire. "You can really separate yourself from the passive opportunities that are available for clients."

These changes, Cooper says, are a chance for him and his team to bring Putnam's small cap offerings "to the next level."

On the hiring front, High Rock Capital founder David Diamond, age 52, joined Putnam last week and on March 31 will become co-PM of the Putnam Small Cap Value Fund. Diamond will work alongside the fund's other co-PM Eric Harthun, also age 52, who will retire at the end of 2017. Diamond and Harthun worked together many years ago at the Boston Company, Cooper notes.

"We wanted to have a thoughtful, smooth transition," Cooper says of Diamond and Harthun co-PMing the fund through the end of the year.

Bill Wiese joined Putnam last week as a small cap value analyst, part of an eight-person small cap analyst team. Wiese previously worked with Diamond at both the Boston Company and High Rock.

Meanwhile, Pam Gao, a 17-year company veteran and PM of the Putnam Capital Opportunities Fund and the Putnam Small Cap Growth Fund, will leave Putnam at the end of March. Kate Lakin, co-director of equity research and a PM on the Putnam Research Fund, will lead members of the small cap research team in PMing the Capital Opportunities Fund, while Putnam veteran Bill Munroe (an unofficial assistant PM to another Putnam PM) will PM the Small Cap Growth Fund.

Spencer Morgan, Karan Sodhi, and Andrew Yoon, all equity analysts, will be taking over the Putnam International Capital Opportunities Fund on March 31. The trio will be taking over from the Putnam global asset allocation team, which has been PMing the fund.

And across three of Putnam's four small cap funds, all except Small Cap Value, the plan is to make the portfolios more concentrated by reducing the number of holdings.

"The payoff for being more active within small cap is even higher," Cooper says.

Diamond, a Boston Company veteran, later founded High Rock Capital and "grew it through fantastic performance," Cooper says. High Rock closed down in 2004, and Diamond "became a private investor."

"We think he's a special investor," Cooper says of Diamond. "He came to us about a year ago. He wanted to run money again ... He wanted to do it within the Putnam platform."

"The day he joined he brought with him 250 stock tickers" to vet with the research team, Cooper adds. 

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