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Rating:Wasatch Alums Launch Their Own Firm Not Rated 3.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wasatch Alums Launch Their Own Firm

Reported by Armie Margaret Lee

Yesterday afternoon brought news (click here to see the story) that Wasatch Advisors [see profile] has a new director of mutual funds and that Gene Podsiadlo's predecessor in that post, Eric Huefner, left to pursue other opportunities. Today, Huefner's destination came to light.

Huefner, together with two fellow Wasatch alums, left to start a new investment shop called Grandeur Peak Global Advisors. His co-founders are former Wasatch senior partner and portfolio manager Robert Gardiner, and PM Blake Walker.

Named after a mountain peak overlooking the Salt Lake Valley, the new company focuses on stocks of small and micro cap companies across the globe.

The three left Wasatch on June 30. In a press release announcing their new firm, they described their parting from Wasatch as "amicable."

Effective June 30, Wasatch named Roger Edgley and JB Taylor the lead PMs of the Wasatch Global Opportunities Fund and effective May 24, the company named Laura Geritz the PM of the International Opportunities Fund. [SEC filing]

"Wasatch has been a great home for me over the past three decades," Gardiner said in the press release. "I am very grateful for the opportunity to have invested side-by-side with the likes of Sam Stewart, Jeff Cardon, and Karey Barker, and to have built a great firm together. I wish Wasatch the very best and continued success.”

Gardiner is CEO, director of reserach and PM of Grandeur Peak, Walker serves as CIO and PM and Huefner serves as president and COO.

"In a world where business is increasingly global and country boundaries continue to blur, I believe the best investment opportunities can be found by investors who are fully canvassing the world and considering each company within its global context," Gardiner said in the release. "I am surprised at how narrowly focused many investment mandates remain today when I believe there is such a clear advantage to investors with a global perspective."

The company currently has five people in its research team. The announcement of a sixth analyst is forthcoming, said company officials.
Company Press Release

Former Wasatch Portfolio Managers Announce New Firm, Seasoned Veterans Robert Gardiner and Blake Walker Take a Global View

Former Wasatch Advisors senior partner and portfolio manager Robert Gardiner announced that he has formed a new money management firm with fellow Wasatch portfolio manager Blake Walker and former Wasatch vice president and director of mutual funds, Eric Huefner. The new firm, Grandeur Peak Global Advisors, will focus on global equity investing with a long-term view and a bias towards small and micro cap companies. More information about Grandeur Peak Global Advisors can be found at http://www.GrandeurPeakGlobal.com

Robert Gardiner, Portfolio Manager, CEO, & Director of Research, described the opportunity this way: "In a world where business is increasingly global and country boundaries continue to blur, I believe the best investment opportunities can be found by investors who are fully canvassing the world and considering each company within its global context. I am surprised at how narrowly focused many investment mandates remain today when I believe there is such a clear advantage to investors with a global perspective."

"The universe of impressive yet underfollowed small and micro cap companies around the world is extensive and growing every day. We are finding a tremendous number of high quality companies with strong growth potential, but which are too small to catch the eye of Wall Street and large mutual funds” added Portfolio Manager & Chief Investment Officer Blake Walker. “We believe global small/micro caps will be one of the most interesting and rewarding investment opportunities of the next decade."

Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Walker have a vision for long-term global investing that includes disciplined screening to find interesting companies around the world, thorough hands-on research to sort the wheat from the chaff, and careful monitoring of valuations in an effort to maximize investment results. They intend to invest in companies based in the U.S., developed foreign countries, and emerging/frontier markets. Each research analyst on the Grandeur Peak Global team has a global sector specialty, but also acts as a general analyst. The portfolio managers are analysts first and foremost, and will lead the team in crafting appropriate portfolios.

The firm has been aggressive in building a strong global research team from the outset—currently five members, with the public announcement of a sixth analyst forthcoming. Said firm President, Eric Huefner, "I joined Grandeur Peak because Robert and Blake are committed to building a world-class research organization. Establishing such a deep and impressive initial team shows this commitment."

Grandeur Peak is a beautiful mountain peak overlooking the Salt Lake valley which provides stunning vistas of the valley below and beyond. Said Mr. Huefner, "the name 'Grandeur Peak' reminds us of three important things:

The best perspective comes from a broad, global view;
Successful investing, like climbing, takes preparation, discipline, and passion;
We are hired by our clients in a joint endeavor to ascend the peak, and we will strive to build a trusted friendship throughout the climb.”

The trio's separation from Wasatch Advisors on June 30, 2011 was amicable. Grandeur Peak Global Advisors is the fulfillment of Mr. Gardiner’s life-long dream to lead his own firm. Said Mr. Gardiner, "Wasatch has been a great home for me over the past three decades. I am very grateful for the opportunity to have invested side-by-side with the likes of Sam Stewart, Jeff Cardon, and Karey Barker and to have built a great firm together. I wish Wasatch the very best and continued success."

The Grandeur Peak Team

Robert T. Gardiner, CFA, was a senior partner, principal shareholder, and portfolio manager at Wasatch Advisors before founding Grandeur Peak Global Advisors. Mr. Gardiner has been in the Investment Management industry since 1981, and involved in managing equity portfolios at Wasatch Advisors since 1986. He is a highly acclaimed portfolio manager who has been profiled in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Barron's, and The New York Times, among other publications. Mr. Gardiner's experience includes:

1986 – 1995 Investment Committee for the Wasatch Small Cap Growth (WAAEX) and Core Growth (WGROX) funds.
1995 – 2006 Founder/Lead Manager of the Wasatch Micro Cap Fund (WMICX)
1997 – 2001 Founder/Co-Manager of the Wasatch Small Cap Value Fund (WMCVX)
2003 – 2004 Founder/Co-Manager of the Wasatch Micro Cap Value Fund (WAMVX)
2005 – 2007 Wasatch Advisors Director of Research
2008 – 2011 Founder/Lead Manager of the Wasatch Global Opportunities Fund (WAGOX)

Mr. Gardiner was a Director of Wasatch Advisors and a member of the Executive Management Team from 1994 – 2007. During his time at Wasatch, the firm grew from 1 to 18 products and from $20 million to $11 billion under management. Mr. Gardiner was also one of the original managing directors for Cross Creek Capital, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wasatch Advisors investing in late stage private equity.

Mr. Gardiner graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Utah with a B.A. in Physics, a B.S. in Mathematics, and minors in Chemistry and French. He speaks French and lived in France for two years. Mr. Gardiner holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and is a member of the Salt Lake City Society of Financial Analysts.

Blake H. Walker was a partner at Wasatch Advisors and a portfolio manager co-managing two Wasatch funds before co-founding Grandeur Peak Global Advisors. Mr. Walker joined the research team at Wasatch Advisors in 2001 and launched the Wasatch International Opportunities Fund (WAIOX) in 2005. He teamed up with Robert Gardiner in 2008 to launch the Wasatch Global Opportunities Fund (WAGOX) while continuing as the lead manager of the International Opportunities Fund. Mr. Walker is an award-winning international portfolio manager. His experience includes:

2001 – 2005 Research Analyst on the Wasatch Micro Cap Fund (WMICX) and Wasatch International Growth Fund (WAIGX)
2005 – 2011 Founder/Lead Manager of the Wasatch International Opportunities Fund (WAIOX)
2008 – 2011 Founder/Co-Manager of the Wasatch Global Opportunities Fund (WAGOX)


Mr. Walker has a B.S. in Accounting from Brigham Young University. He is originally from Toronto, Canada. Mr. Walker speaks French and lived in France for two years.

Eric W. Huefner is President, COO, and CCO of Grandeur Peak Global Advisors. Before co-founding Grandeur Peak Global Advisors, Mr. Huefner was a partner, vice president, and the director of the $8B mutual fund business at Wasatch Advisors. Mr. Huefner was also a vice president of Wasatch Funds.

Mr. Huefner's experience at Wasatch Advisors spanned eleven years. He joined the firm’s operations team in 1980, and then went on to become a research analyst and member of the investment committee before deciding to pursue an MBA. Mr. Huefner returned to Wasatch Advisors in 2006 to manage the mutual fund business and lead the firm's marketing efforts.

Prior to rejoining Wasatch Advisors, Mr. Huefner was a Sr. Business Director managing the V8 Beverages line for Campbell’s. He spent the prior 12 years in various business management positions at Kraft/Nabisco, Sara Lee, and Campbell’s. Before business school, Mr. Huefner was a middle/upper school math teacher and coached basketball, golf, soccer, and lacrosse for three years.

Mr. Huefner graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University with an A.B. in Economics. He received an MBA with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Mr. Huefner has lived in Israel and Switzerland. He currently serves as a Trustee on The Waterford School Board of Trustees.

Randy E. Pearce, CFA, MBA, is a Sr. Research Analyst at Grandeur Peak Global Advisors, with a specialty focus on the financial sector.

Mr. Pearce was a junior and later senior research analyst at Wasatch Advisors from 2005-2009. He was a financial sector specialist and a general analyst on the Wasatch Strategic Income Fund (WASIX)—a global fund with an emphasis in financial companies. In 2010, Mr. Pearce interned at Thornburg Investment Management as a global equities analyst while earning his MBA.

Mr. Pearce has a B.A. in Business Administration from the University of Utah and an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley. He holds the CFA designation, having passed each of the three levels on his first attempt. Mr. Pearce speaks Portuguese and lived in Brazil for two years.

Amy H. Sunderland, CFA, is a Sr. Research Analyst at Grandeur Peak Global Advisors, with a specialty focus on the consumer sector.

Ms. Sunderland was a junior and later senior research analyst at Wasatch Advisors from 2003-2011. She was a general analyst on the Wasatch Small Cap Fund (WAAEX) and the Wasatch Micro Cap Fund (WMICX), as well as a consumer sector specialist. Before Wasatch, Ms. Sunderland worked on the Goldman Sach's Private Wealth Management team in Salt Lake City, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Ms. Sunderland graduated Magna Cum Laude in the top 1% of her class from the University of Utah where she earned a B.S. in Finance and Business Information Systems. Ms. Sunderland was selected as the Outstanding Finance Scholar of the Year by the dean, and a Coca-Cola Scholar.

Ms. Sunderland was born in China and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. She moved to Salt Lake City at age 10, bought her first house at age 12, and built a successful real estate business. Ms. Sunderland began investing in stocks at age 14 and has been a passionate investor ever since. She currently resides in Salt Lake City and Hong Kong.

Robert S. Green, MSF, is a Quantitative Research Analyst at Grandeur Peak Global Advisors.

Mr. Green was a research assistant and then a quantitative portfolio analyst at Wasatch Advisors from 2006-2011. He assisted the entire research team, as well as having specific roles on the Wasatch Global Science & Technology Fund (WAGTX) and the Wasatch Global Opportunities Fund (WAGOX). Prior to Wasatch, Mr. Green worked as an associate on the University Venture Fund at the University of Utah.

Mr. Green graduated Summa Cum Laude from Westminster College in Salt Lake City, UT with a B.S. in Business Finance and a Minor in Economics. He received a Master of Science in Finance from The University of Utah. Mr. Green recently completed the CFA Level 1 exam.

About Grandeur Peak Global Advisors

Grandeur Peak Global Advisors is comprised of a highly seasoned and collaborative research team taking a bottom-up approach to investing using disciplined global screening, rigorous company due diligence, and close attention to valuation to find what we believe to be the best investment opportunities around the world. Our bias is towards small and micro cap companies because we believe we can find faster growth among these firms, and often at better valuations due to the lack of analyst coverage. Grandeur Peak Global Advisors, LLC is an employee-owned investment adviser headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.
 

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