Take stock – May 13

Mutual fund rating agency Morningstar has ranked Canada mid-pack among 16 major countries as a good place for fund investors — but with a failing grade for fees and expenses.

Morningstar grades Canada mid-pack for Fund Investors

Mutual fund rating agency Morningstar has ranked Canada mid-pack among 16 major countries as a good place for fund investors — but with a failing grade for fees and expenses. Canada rates high for investor protection and investment transparency, and its overall grade was B-minus, based on criteria which also included taxation and investment choices. This grade put Canada behind Japan, the Netherlands, Taiwan and Italy, all rated B, but ahead of Britain, France and Switzerland, all at C-plus. The United States got the only A overall rating in the study released Tuesday, ahead of China at B-plus. Canada, by contrast, got the only F grade for fees among the 16 countries studied. The typical Canadian fund investor pays a management expense ratio of 1.25 to 1.49 per cent for a bond fund, and between two and 2.5 per cent for an equity fund. Canadians also typically face a front-end load of between four and five per cent, “primarily because investors are unaware that this fee is negotiable,” the Morningstar study adds.

Western forest faces deeper Q1 losses

Western Forest Products Inc. (TSX:WEF) said Tuesday it will continue to sell assets it doesn’t see as key to company growth, but that the economic downturn has slowed potential sales. The forestry company, which reported a deeper loss and 25 per cent drop in wood product sales in the first quarter, said it plans to use the money from assets it unloads to reduce borrowing and improve its balance sheet. But acting president and chief executive Dominic Gammiero said the recession has halted its plans to sell “non-core assets” in recent months. “Unfortunately the market for these assets have contracted this past year,” Gammiero told shareholders at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Vancouver.

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