T. Rowe Price: Does It Add Value?

Last Updated Sep 9, 2011 10:35 AM EDT

If you haven't seen our "Add Value" series, we take a look at actively managed fund companies' ability to outperform comparable funds from passive fund providers. Today, we'll look at T. Rowe Price, which has more than $300 billion in assets. As always, we will compare the returns of their funds with the comparable funds of Dimensional Fund Advisors and Vanguard, with the time frame being the 10 years ending June 30, 2011.

T. Rowe Price vs. DFA Equal-weighting the T. Rowe Price funds in each asset class, T. Rowe Price outperformed in three of the nine asset classes, tied with DFA in two and underperformed in four. A T. Rowe Price portfolio that equal weights the nine asset classes produced a return of 8.6 percent per year, underperforming a similar DFA portfolio by 0.2 percent per year.

T. Rowe Price vs. Vanguard Using the same methodology, T. Rowe Price outperformed Vanguard in all seven asset classes where they had similar funds. A portfolio of T. Rowe Price funds outperformed a Vanguard portfolio by 0.9 percent per year (8.4 versus 7.5).

The data shows that at least over the past 10 years that T. Rowe Price's actively managed funds have outperformed an index strategy (Vanguard), but haven't been able to outperform the passively managed funds of DFA. If this was a boxing match, we would have to declare a split decision.

One final note: Unfortunately the Morningstar database we have access to doesn't account for any survivorship bias that might be lurking in the data for actively managed funds. If a T. Rowe Price fund had done poorly, it might have been either closed or merged into a better performing fund in the same asset class (and the poor returns would be buried in the mutual fund graveyard and not accounted for in the data).

More on MoneyWatch:

MFS: Does It Add Value? Goldman Sachs: Does It Add Value? USAA: Does It Add Value? How to Build a Diversified Portfolio Investors Continue Moving to Passive Management
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    Larry Swedroe is director of research for The BAM Alliance. He has authored or co-authored 13 books, including his most recent, Think, Act, and Invest Like Warren Buffett. His opinions and comments expressed on this site are his own and may not accurately reflect those of the firm.