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T.Rowe Price International Discovery, one of the best funds in the foreign stock category, will close to new investors Monday, March 13. The company is expected to announce the closing next week, but has notified investors who have inquired about the fund in the past.

The $835 million fund focuses on small- and mid-cap stocks. A taste for smaller stocks often forces funds to close before they hit $1 billion since large funds can't establish significant positions in smaller companies without moving their prices and diluting returns. The fund also may have experienced a spike in inflows -- cash was a bit high at year-end, just under 10%.

The no-load fund sports a sterling track record, most recently thanks to lead manager Justin Thompson, who joined the fund's team in June 1998. Over the year-to-date, one-, three-, five- and 10-year time periods, the fund has outperformed at least 95% of its foreign stock fund peers, according to


. Over the past year, the fund was up 211%, and it averaged a 48.6% annual return over the past three years.

Current shareholders will still be able to buy shares after the fund closes, says a company spokesman. The fund's 1.47% expense ratio is well below the category's 1.71% average.

Aetna Launches Third 'Protection' Fund


is launching

Principal Protection III

today, its third fund guaranteeing investors' principal for a five-year period.

Investors have until May 30 to buy shares in the broker-sold fund, which is team-managed and has clearance to invest 100% in stocks or bonds. The upshot of the principal guarantee is that if you hold your shares for five years, you're guaranteed that your balance on May 31, 2005 won't be less than its value on June 1 of this year. The principal is guaranteed by

MBIA Insurance


Shares sold prior to May 31, 2005, aren't included in the guarantee. Also, keep in mind that your guaranteed balance is net of the fund's sales charges and expenses.

And those sales charges and expenses are significant. The fund's class A shares levy a maximum 4.75% sales charge, and class B shares have a maximum 5% back-end load. Annual expenses are 1.5% for class A shares, 2.25% for class B. The average domestic hybrid fund's expense ratio is 1.31%, according to Morningstar.

What you're paying for is peace of mind. And that's come in handy so far for investors who own shares of the similar

Principal Protection I


Principal Protection II

. Principal Protection I is up 4.4% since its Oct. 7 inception, but Principal Protection II is down 2.4% since its Dec. 21 inception.

New Manager at USAA Income

Margaret "Didi" Weinblatt has taken the reins of $1.28 billion

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USAA Income fund, the San Antonio-based fund shop announced today.

She replaces John Saunders, who retired in January. In addition to running Income, she'll also set the asset allocation of domestic hybrid fund


Income Strategy and manage the bond portion of that portfolio.

Previously, Weinblatt was chief investment officer for

Countrywide Investments

. A former math professor at

Babson College

, she has extensive industry experience, but a company statement didn't detail any mutual funds she'd managed in the past.

Income focuses on high-quality long-term bonds and has a solid track record. Started in 1974, the fund's 8.1% average annual return over the past 10 years beats nearly 70% of its peers, according to Morningstar. The fund's tiny 0.38% annual expenses are far below the category's 1.05% average.


Monday's Fund Openings, Closings, Manager Moves.