Declaring its experiment a success,

Federated Investors

says it is ending its direct-to-shareholder sales pitch today, a week earlier than expected.

The Pittsburgh-based broker-sold mutual fund firm offered four funds --

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Aggressive Growth,


Communications Technology,

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International Small Company and


Large Cap Growth -- without the maximum 5.5% sales charge. The promotion began March 1 and was scheduled to end March 31.

Federated wouldn't reveal how much money was raised, but said sales for each of the funds during the offering period were at least 50% higher than in February.

"We reached the investors we wanted to reach, so we felt it was an appropriate time to end the promotion,'' says Rebecca Taylor, a Federated spokeswoman.

Federated's no-load experiment comes at a time when fund companies have considered multiple ways to sell their wares. In the past week,


, for example, said it will slap sales charges on six of its mutual funds, allowing them to be sold through brokers as well as directly to shareholders.

Federated says it's not ready to commit to going through the no-load channel just yet, though Taylor says it's a possibility in the future.

Investors who bought no-load shares in the four Federated funds won't be able to buy any more without paying a broker. They can trade among the four funds without a redemption fee, but if they want to move outside these four offerings they'll be charged 2% for assets held under 30 months.

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