The Wall Street Journal runs an interview with Peter Lynch of Fidelity Magellan Fund fame that includes this passage:
The market is different than in 1990. One of the biggest changes: exchange-traded funds. Mr. Lynch credits their rise with a distrust of mutual-fund managers, which he says is unwarranted. "People accept that active managers can't beat the market and it's just not true," he says. (A Fidelity spokesman says about three-quarters of its 49 equity funds managed by the same portfolio manager for at least five years were beating their benchmark over the manager's tenure as of Sept. 30.)
This tells you more about how a Fidelity portfolio manager gets to keep his or her job for at least five years than about how likely a Fidelity investor in an actively managed equity fund is to beat a benchmark over a five year period. The Journal doesn't tell you how many actively managed equity funds Fidelity offers (hint: it's a lot more than 49), or what percentage of its assets under management fall into that "managed by the same portfolio manager for at least five years" category. It's like a baseball statistic that says something like "three quarters of baseball teams managed by the same manager for at least five years had winning records over the manager's tenure." If the baseball team is losing, the owner fires the manager. Some of the Fidelity funds have teams of managers. And what about bond funds? I'm willing to accept that some active managers can beat the market, but that remark from the Fidelity spokesman doesn't really address the question usefully. In some other contexts the Journal might point that out more aggressively to readers, but here it just lets the comment slide.