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Fund Openings, Closings, Manager Moves: More Growing Pains at Lindner

Putnam reopens three closed funds.

More than a year after a management shakeout, the troubled

Lindner Funds

are going through more growing pains.

The St. Louis fund company is reshuffling its portfolio management team and bringing in three new managers, including the son of Lindner's chief investment officer. Stepping down from the day-to-day portfolio management duties is Eric Ryback, a 16-year Lindner veteran who had the most portfolio-management experience of the lot.

Ryback will continue as president of Lindner Funds, a company spokesman says, though he won't have day-to-day portfolio management duties anymore.

The deep-value shop has been going through a management transformation since bringing in consultants from

Vantage Consulting

in February 1999. Vantage was to help Lindner figure out how to move beyond its out-of-favor investment style.

But the consultants concluded they could manage the funds just as well. That's when they fired some portfolio managers and instituted an investment committee made up of Ryback, Lindner chairman Doug Valassis and then-Vantage consultant Mark Finn, who is now Lindner's chief investment officer. The committee, which collectively ran all the firm's six funds, is being disbanded, Finn says, so managers can have a more active role.

Finn's son, Jonathan, will join him in co-managing the


Small-Cap and



Also coming on board, are Gerald Barnes, who will co-manage the


Utility fund and manage the fixed-income portion of the


Asset Allocation fund (Mark Finn and Jeffrey Fotta run the equity portion) and Thomas Lynch, who will co-manage Utility and the


Market Neutral fund with Fotta.

Though convoluted, this game of musical chairs hasn't led to a performance turnaround.


Large-Cap, Asset Allocation and Small-Cap are trailing their peers on a year-to-date basis. Though the Utility fund is one of the better performing offerings in the utility sector, Lindner's Asset Allocation fund is near the bottom for performance in the hybrid category, according to



Putnam Reopens Three Closed Funds

Putnam Investments

reopened three high-octane growth funds to new investors Tuesday, saying the recent selloff has created a plethora of compelling values. Each fund has taken a beating over the past month.

The three broker-sold funds opening their doors are: the $39 billion

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New Opportunities, the $3.2 billion

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Capital Appreciation and the $903 million


New Century Growth. A company statement didn't set a date or asset level for closing any of these tech-heavy funds.

The large-cap New Opportunities and all-cap New Century Growth fund each had more than half their assets in tech stocks at the end of March and January, respectively. All-cap Capital Appreciation's biggest bets were on healthcare and retail at the end of January. Over the last 30 days, the funds have been hit harder than most of their peers, losing 17.3%, 25% and 13.6%, respectively, according to Morningstar. In each case, that performance trails some 90% of the funds' competitors.

Each of the funds have miniscule cash positions, so new cash would help the funds buy some of their established positions at lower prices.

New Opportunities, launched ten years ago, first closed to new investors in June 1997. It reopened Jan. 18 and

closed again on Jan. 28 after taking in $1 billion. Many see the fund as a poster child for small-cap growth funds that outgrow their investment style.

Capital Appreciation, launched in 1993, follows an all-cap strategy, focusing on growing companies of any size in any sector. Its record is spotty, beating its average mid-cap peer over the past three years, but trailing its peers over every other time period, according to Morningstar. The fund has been closed to new investors since June 1998.

As its name implies, New Century Growth focuses on "new economy" sectors like the Internet, software and wireless telecommunications stocks. The fund was launched Jan. 21 and

closed March 10.

Of the three, New Opportunities has the most solid track record. Despite some year-to-year bumps in the road, lead manager Dan Miller has beaten the average large-cap growth fund over the past 1-, 3- and 5-year periods. Capital Appreciation's record is spotty and New Century Growth's brief history is marred by the market's recent carnage.

See Tuesday's

Fund Openings, Closings, Manager Moves.

See Monday's

Fund Openings, Closings, Manager Moves.