Sometimes one highflying tech fund just isn't enough.
Amerindo Investment Advisors
, which rode the Internet wave to a 249% gain for its
Technology fund in 1999, plans to launch two new funds in the hottest sub-sectors of the tech market: business-to-business and biotech/health care.
Details are still sketchy, but the funds are expected to be launched in May. No details on the funds' expenses were immediately available.
Portfolio manager Alberto Vilar said at a New York press conference Monday that he sees the current boom in biotech continuing well into the future, despite a pullback this week. The
Amex Biotechnology Index
is down 13.3% in the last week, but it's still up 76% year to date.
Vilar, who also manages institutional money, backed off the sector in the early 1990s after the Clinton administration's health care reform proposals sent those stocks into a tailspin.
``Biotech is probably ready to start another cycle,'' Vilar says.
Vilar says he continues to like the B2B Internet arena, believing it has more potential than the business-to-consumer segment, which has been the primary focus of Internet investors so far.
``Cisco currently does 78% of its business through e-commerce,'' Vilar says. ``They're the first to try everything. If they do it, it stands to reason that other people will too.''
Amerindo joins several other fund companies, including
, that have sliced up the Internet into smaller and smaller segments. Firsthand has an
emerging technologies offerings in addition to its broader Internet lineup. Kinetics added an Internet Infrastructure fund earlier this year.
Vilar also announced Monday that Amerindo's flagship Technology fund will close once assets exceed $1.5 billion, but a clone of the fund,
, would be launched at that point.
The famously concentrated fund had just 22 holdings, as of its December report. Vilar has been known to take positions in stocks that have, at times, exceeded 40% of the fund's assets. Internet portal
was one and continues to be one of Vilar's favorite names.
Still, for all its recent success, Vilar's $616 million Technology portfolio hasn't gathered much in the way of new cash. Last October it had $280 million, but much of that asset boost has come from appreciation.
One thing repelling investors could be the fund's high expenses. Amerindo's Technology is one of the priciest funds out there, charging 2.2% in annual expenses, plus a 3% redemption fee for assets held under a year. The average U.S. equity fund charges 1.44% in expenses, according to
American Century Plans Biotech Fund
Also jumping on the biotech bandwagon is
, which plans to launch
, a health care fund, in late May.
The new fund will join a growing field of health care and biotech funds, which now number 31, according to Morningstar.
The American Century fund comes out at a time when biotech is rivaling dot-coms for supremacy in the fund world.
The typical health-care fund ranked by Morningstar has a 12-month return of 61.9%, mostly from stakes in emerging medical technologies like human genome work.
``It's not surprising that American Century should want to roll out a health care fund, given how well biotech has done,'' says mutual fund analyst Ramy Shaalan of
, a mutual fund tracking service.
American Century's filing doesn't divulge many details of the fund's operations or stock selection methodology. It says only that portfolio managers will look at companies in the U.S. and abroad that ``develop products, processes or services that will provide significant technological advancements or improvements.''
The new offering will not be limited by market cap and will be non-diversified -- meaning it can take significant stakes in a relatively small number of names.
Arnold Douville, part of the team that manages the firm's mid-cap-growth
Vista fund, will oversee the fund along with Christy Turner, who has spent four years as a health care analyst at several of American Century's funds, including
New Opportunities and
Pioneer Micro-Cap to Close
You can't keep a good micro-cap fund open.
says it will close its $145 million
Micro-Cap fund once assets hit $225 million.
A Pioneer spokeswoman says the firm might later reopen the fund if portfolio managers feel they can put the money to work efficiently.
If Pioneer keeps up its performance, it may reach that asset size soon. In 1999 the fund gained 36% and is up 26.29% so far this year -- a pretty remarkable feat for a fund with a value tilt.
Pioneer's announcement follows on the heels of recent closings at
Turner Micro Cap Growth and
Fremont U.S. Micro-Cap.