Fund Openings, Closings, Manager Moves: AIM to Launch Two New Funds

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AIM Funds

is keeping busy these days.

Over the last four months the Houston-based fund shop has closed three small- or mid-cap funds; last week it announced

plans to ask shareholders to approve five fund mergers, and Friday it'll roll out two new stock funds:

Emerging Growth

and

Large Cap Opportunities

.

Emerging Growth will be an all-cap growth fund probably focusing on small- and mid-cap stocks. Bob Kippes and Ryan Crane will call the shots. The pair also work together on

(AAGFX)

Aggressive Growth and

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Small Cap Growth, two tech-heavy funds which are both up more than 100% over the past year.

Large Cap Opportunities will chart a different course than many large-cap growth funds. The fund applies a long/short strategy, holding stocks with positive earnings surprises and selling short those stocks that have earnings disappointments. Short-selling, or shorting, is a bet that a stock's price will fall. It involves selling borrowed stock in hopes of buying it at a lower price later on. The fund is allowed to short up to 25% of its portfolio at any given time.

A team of six managers will run the fund. AIM has successfully followed a similar strategy with

(AMCOX)

Mid Cap Opportunities and

(ASCOX)

Small Cap Opportunities, both of which are closed to new investors.

The broker-sold funds aren't necessarily the cheapest around. Class A shares have a maximum 5.5% front-end load, or sales charge, while the maximum back-end load is 5% on class B shares and 1% on class C shares.

Emerging Growth's class A share expense ratio is 1.68%, while B and C shares' annual expenses are 2.37%. The average small cap growth fund's expense ratio is 1.7%, according to

Morningstar

.

Due to its more unique approach, Large Cap Opportunities' expenses range from 2.33% on A shares to 3.02% on Class B and C shares. The average large-cap growth fund's expense ratio is 1.46%.

Untested Firm Launches Net Fund

Internet funds' scorching performances over the past three years have led to torrents of new Net funds from firms large and small. The latest is

iMillennium

, which will be managed by a rookie skipper with more experience as a lawyer than as a money manager.

The no-load fund will look for Internet and "Internet-related" companies whose values haven't been recognized by the market -- surely not an easy proposition in these days of nosebleed valuations for all things technology. The growth fund's prospectus gives portfolio manager Omar Rivero leeway to invest without limit in foreign stocks and to take big bets on relatively few stocks.

Rivero has no record running a mutual fund and has managed private accounts since 1996. Prior to becoming a private money manager he was an attorney for six years. He's chief executive of

iMillennium Capital

, and this is the firm's only mutual fund.

Although the fund doesn't levy a sales charge, it is far from cheap. Its annual expenses are 2.75%, while the average technology fund charges 1.77%, according to

Morningstar

. The fund also charges a whopping 2% redemption fee on shares sold within two years of purchase.

DelCap Gets New Name

Like a kid who goes from Jimmy to Jim when he sets off for college,

Delaware Investments

is changing the name of its

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DelCap fund to

Growth Opportunities

, saying the new name better reflects the fund's style.

The upshot is that the firm is right. Growth Opportunities -- probably soon to be shortened to Growth Opps in the Philadelphia shop's offices -- is more descriptive of a mid- to large-cap growth fund than DelCap.

The broker-sold fund is a middling performer that hasn't made headlines since portfolio manager Edward Antoian left the firm with several colleagues back in March 1997. Since then, Gerald Frey has called the shots, primarily spreading the funds assets among four sectors: technology, health care, retail and financials.

The fund's three-year annualized return is 41.6%, which is right around the category average for mid-cap growth funds.

See Wednesday's

Fund Openings, Closings, Manager Moves.

See Tuesday's

Fund Openings, Closings, Manager Moves.

See Monday's

Fund Openings, Closings, Manager Moves.