(Adds quote from director of mutual fund research and quote from president of DoubleLine)
By Jennifer Ablan
NEW YORK, Feb 2 (Reuters) - DoubleLine Funds, an investment firm that has been a major competitor to bond fund Pimco, whose co-founder Bill Gross was fired last year, on Monday reported a monthly record net inflow in January of $3.04 billion.
The Los Angeles-based firm, whose co-founder Jeffrey Gundlach is Gross's fiercest rival in the bond market, said the previous strongest monthly net inflow for the DoubleLine Funds was $2.67 billion in February 2012.
The DoubleLine Total Return Bond Fund, the firm's largest fund by total assets, also saw a record net inflow last month of $2.59 billion, exceeding its previous largest monthly net inflow of $2.4 billion in February 2012.
The Total Return Bond Fund, with $43.6 billion in assets under management, invests primarily in mortgage-backed securities.
The firm's Core Fixed Income Fund, which invests in different sectors of the fixed income universe, had a net inflow of $260 million in January. The fund, with $3.72 billion in assets, had record net monthly inflow of $495 million in December 2014.
Both are open-end intermediate-term bond funds.
DoubleLine, which saw its 12th consecutive month of net inflows in January, has been a huge beneficiary of the withdrawal and performance issues that have plagued Allianz's Pacific Investment Management Co. Investors pulled $150 billion from Pimco's U.S. open-end mutual funds for 2014, according to Morningstar data.
Pimco Total Return had outflows of $19.4 billion in December, more than twice the $9.5 billion withdrawn in November. The fund's assets were $143.4 billion at the end of December, less than half the peak of nearly $293 billion hit in 2013.
There has been a rush of withdrawals from Pimco after management turmoil last year spooked investors, including the shock resignation of Bill Gross in September from the company he helped co-found. Gross' exit came only eight months after his top deputy, Mohamed El-Erian, quit amid acrimony.
Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF & Mutual Fund Research at S&P Capital IQ, said the DoubleLine Total Return had relatively strong performance in 2014, consistent with its record since inception. "Investors regularly review their asset allocation decisions in the beginning of the year and we think those seeking active management favor those with a stable management team."
DoubleLine Capital LP managed $64 billion in assets across all vehicles as of December 31.
Ron Redell, president of DoubleLine Funds, said: "I believe we continue to see record inflows into our funds from investors that are looking for asset management firms that have offered insightful thought leadership and strong risk-adjusted returns."
Pimco did not immediately respond to requests for comment by phone and email. (Reporting by Jennifer Ablan; Editing by James Dalgleish and Christian Plumb)