Even after last week's steep
selloff hit tech stocks hardest, fund companies aren't giving up on the recently sizzling sector; fund investors aren't giving up either.
Jitters of all flavors -- inflation, valuation, you name it -- sent the tech-heavy
down more than 25% last week. The average tech fund was down more than 16% even before Friday's blood bath, according to
. But that didn't stop
from quietly rolling out its new
fund Monday or
from launching its
fund today. (In another vote of confidence, Putnam
reopened three growth funds to new investors yesterday, citing attractive valuations.)
Even if tech stocks are jittery, investors'
big appetite for tech funds hasn't abated much. They yanked $630 million out of tech funds over the five days ending last Monday, according to
, a Web site and newsletter that tracks market liquidity. That's more than they took out of any other fund category, but it's a pittance compared with the more than $33 billion they dumped into tech funds in 1999, says Charles Biderman, president of TrimTabs.com.
As for the two new broker-sold funds, the AmEx fund looks a bit better out of the gate.
That's not just a hunch. Both funds actually have a three-year track record because they were incubated -- registered and managed as funds available only to company employees -- more than three years ago.
Through March 31, the most recent performance information for the AmEx fund, Innovations had a 75% three-year annualized return, compared with 68.8% for the average tech fund and 50.9% for the MFS fund.
Started late in 1996, the AmEx fund will hold 50 to 90 primarily TMT (tech, media and telecom) stocks. Louis Giglio, who has managed
AXP Strategy Aggressive since April 1998, will hold the reins. His tech, telecom and health stock bets on Strategy Aggressive have kept that fund ahead of its mid-cap growth peers during his tenure, according to
. One downer is that the fund has lost 22.5% over the last month, more than most peers.
Rookie Dave Sette-Ducati isn't responsible for the MFS fund's weak record since he's been in charge only since February. Still, the fund, which will follow an all-cap strategy, might be a tough sell since it lags its average peer in every time period since it started in 1997, according to Lipper. Over the past month the fund is down 20%, which is about average for the tech fund category.
Neither of the funds is a bargain. The AmEx fund levies a maximum 5% front-end load or sales charge on Class A shares and a maximum 5% back-end load on Class B shares.
The MFS fund levies a maximum 5.75% sales charge on Class A shares and a maximum back-end load of 4% and 1% on Class B and Class C shares, respectively.
The average tech fund's annual expense ratio is 1.77%, according to Morningstar. Both funds' Class A share expenses are below average, but Class B and C share expenses are above.