Legg Mason, Inc. (NYSE: LM) is one of the oldest investment management firms, created in 1899 in Baltimore, Maryland. As of Nov. 30, 2015, the company is the 21st largest asset management firm, with over $691 billion in assets under management (AUM). The company sets itself apart by focusing its investing strategies through three key values: integrity, collaboration and accountability. Over the decades, Legg Mason has also acquired smaller niche managers to add to its lineup. With names such as Brandywine, ClearBridge, Royce & Associates, and Western Asset, Legg Mason has emerged as a clear leader in the industry.
ClearBridge Large Cap Growth Fund (SBLGX)
The ClearBridge Large Cap Growth Fund has been performing well for nearly 20 years, since its launch in 1997. With managers Peter Bourbeau and Margaret Vitrano at the helm, the fund looks to invest in blue-chip, high-quality companies that dominate their industries. The fund seeks long-term capital growth through the use of bottom-up, fundamental analysis when selecting stocks. With its top three holdings, Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN), CVS Health (NYSE: CVS), and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), the fund is looking for brand names with large growth potential over the long run. The fund has reached 4-star Morningstar status in the large growth category through its outperformance over the S&P 500 over several time periods. More importantly, these returns came with a lower beta and a higher alpha, signifying the importance of having a professional money manager over a passive investment strategy. With a net expense ratio of 1.14%, the ClearBridge Large Cap Growth fund is a suitable investment choice for those seeking exposure to the large-cap growth sector.
ClearBridge Mid Cap Fund (SBMAX)
For those looking to invest specifically in companies with market capitalizations from $2 billion to $10 billion, the ClearBridge Mid Cap Fund is a suitable selection. The fund has a diversified portfolio that seeks long-term capital appreciation through a disciplined and consistent investment process. It is often hard for the average investor to have the expertise and investment research to perform analysis on companies of this size. With its top holdings in stocks such as Starwood Property Trust (NYSE: STWD), Casey's General Stores (NASDAQ: CASY), and Alexandria Real Estate Equities (NYSE: ARE). Founded in 1998, the fund is managed by Brian Angerame and Derek Deutsch. With a gross expense ratio of 1.21%, the ClearBridge Mid Cap Fund would be a good investment in the mid-cap area.
Western Asset Managed Municipals Fund (SHMMX)
Legg Mason's fixed income division is Western Asset Management. For investors looking for professionally managed tax-free bond income, the Western Asset Managed Municipal Fund is the best choice. The fund looks to provide investors with high monthly tax-exempt income. It also uses a time-tested, value-oriented process that focuses on sector rotation between intermediate and longer-term investment-grade bonds. This is an excellent tax-free yield, especially for the low cost of a 0.66% expense ratio.
The fund provides a consistent, tax-free income stream and is one of the most highly rated funds in Legg Mason's lineup. Along with its 3-star Morningstar rating, the fund won the 2015 Lipper Award. It is considered to be the best fund among 154 competitors based on risk-adjusted performance. Over the last 10 years, the fund has produced an average return of 5.29%. This is 0.56% higher than the average performance of the Barclays Municipal Bond Index.