Window Dressing

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DEFINITION of 'Window Dressing'

A strategy used by mutual fund and portfolio managers near the year or quarter end to improve the appearance of the portfolio/fund performance before presenting it to clients or shareholders. To window dress, the fund manager will sell stocks with large losses and purchase high flying stocks near the end of the quarter. These securities are then reported as part of the fund's holdings.

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BREAKING DOWN 'Window Dressing'

Performance reports and a list of the holdings in a mutual fund are usually sent to clients every quarter. Another variation of window dressing is investing in stocks that don't meet the style of the mutual fund. For example, a precious metals fund might invest in stocks that are in a hot sector at the time, disguising the fund's holdings, so clients really have no idea what they are paying for.

Window dressing may make a fund appear more attractive, but you can't hide poor performance for long.

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