It wasn't so long ago that technology seemed infallible. Remember Nasdaq 5000?
But a gander at mutual fund performances at the halfway point of the year 2000 drives home the fact that many of 1999's leaders were unseated. Technology funds turned in some of the worst performances of the new millennium. Funds investing in the Internet slipped even lower on the performance scale, according to second-quarter numbers compiled by
. And Japan funds, which came out of nowhere in 1999 to shoot the lights out, slinked back to the bottom tier during the first half of 2000.
The Nasdaq's spring weakness punished technology and Internet funds. The
Potomac Internet Plus fund, for example took an especially hard hit because it leverages the
Dow Jones Composite Internet
index by a factor of 125%. For each percentage point that index falls or rises, the fund will go up or down 1.25 times as much. In the first half, the fund was off 44.1%
Another down-on-its-luck fund making a regular appearance in the bottom these days is the
Jacob Internet fund. Once a New Economy wunderkind, Ryan Jacob's new offering took a bit hit due to its substantial holding of content providers and e-commerce stocks. That fund shed 40.9% for the first half of the year.
As a group, though, science and technology funds actually managed to eke out a gain of 4.3% on average, thanks to high-performing semiconductor stocks.
Japan funds, and funds focused on the Asia Pacific region, also got whacked as stocks in that country with huge gains last year fell back to earth. The average Japan fund posted a 10.1% loss.
On the upside, some recently ignored sectors and industries made solid gains in the first half. Performing better than any other funds were those investing in health care and biotech sectors. Thanks in large part to the improving fortunes for biotech companies and the future new medical treatments using gene technology, funds that placed big bets on the subsector saw sizable gains. Among the big winners were
Nicholas-Applegate Global Healthcare and
Dresdner RCM Biotech.
A surprising entry in the top fund slot is
Deutsche European Equity. While this fund has a solid performance for most of the year, it belongs to a category that has lagged behind. For the time period, the sector declined by 0.2%, but Deutsche European Equity had a 97.4% return by focusing on the technology, media and the telecommunications area on the Continent.
For a more in-depth look at the winners, losers and major themes so far this investing year, here's our
First-Half Mutual-Fund Scorecard
. (All figures are from Lipper and examine performance through June 30).