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Like any self-respecting value house, the Oakmark funds had a horrific 2008. The low-lights include: Oakmark International Small Cap Fund, -45.7%; Oakmark International, -41.1%: Oakmark Global, -38.8%: Oakmark Select, -36.2%.

Firm president John Raitt went for the glass half full/half empty spin, writing in Oakmark’s most recent shareholder letter (dated Dec 31. 2008): “While all of our Funds performed better than the market averages for the year, we are still not satisfied with large negative returns.” Presumably neither are their shareholders.

But the beleaguered Oakmark shop decided what’s needed in this massive down market is a bit of levity. So it opened the shareholder letter with a comic smack dab on page 1, courtesy of the creative minds at The punch line: “Let’s never speak of 2008 again.”

You can check it out here:

While humor—especially from the typically humorless fund industry—is appreciated, it remains to be seen if Oakmark shareholders are ready to laugh off their huge portfolio losses.

-- Carla Fried