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Nations Funds

is launching the

Nations Marsico International Opportunities

fund, essentially a broker-sold clone of the freshly minted and no-load

Marsico International Opportunities

fund, according to a company statement.

Like its no-load counterpart, the fund will be a high-octane growth portfolio run by Jim Gendelman. He follows a concentrated approach, similar to that of firm founder Tom Marsico, holding 35 to 50 foreign stocks of any size -- the average foreign stock fund holds 170 stocks, according to


. Marsico made his name while running the highly focused


Janus Twenty from 1988 to 1997.

Concentrated investing -- the practice of holding a small number of stocks -- can yield big returns, but can also sink a fund in a hurry when those stocks head south. Marsico's style has produced eye-popping returns in the past, but not so far this year.


Marsico Focus and


Marsico Growth & Income, the firm's two flagships, run by the man himself, are down 10.3% and 9.4% since Jan. 1. That lags behind more than 90% of their large-cap growth peers and the

S&P 500, according to Morningstar.

previewed the no-load fund's strategy in March, prior to its June 30 launch.

The no-load version is far cheaper than this new broker-sold version. It does levy a 0.25% annual 12b-1, or marketing fee, to pay advisers, but its 1.60% expense ratio is lower than the average foreign stock fund's 1.70%, according to Morningstar.

Nations Funds' Class A shares will charge a maximum 5.75% front-end load or sales charge, according to its prospectus. Its Class B and Class C shares carry a maximum 5% and 1% back-end load, respectively. Class A shares' annual expenses are 1.66%, and Class B and Class C shares' expenses are 2.41%.

Nations Funds are the fund family of

Banc of America Advisors

-- part of

Banc of America

, which recently

bought the half of

Marsico Funds

it didn't already own for more than $1 billion. Now Nations offers broker-sold versions of each of the four Marsico funds.

AIM Targets Value With New Fund

Value funds aren't tearing up the charts, but

AIM Funds

is rolling one out.


AIM Large Cap Basic Value

will open for business Tuesday, according to a company announcement. The fund is pitched as the Houston-based firm's most "conservative equity fund." It will typically have at least one-third of its assets riding on its top 10 picks and can invest up to 25% of its assets overseas, according to its prospectus.

That might sound risky, but the average domestic

large-cap value fund has about 34% of its assets sunk into its top 10 holdings and has a foreign allowance, according to Morningstar.

The past few years have been tough for value investors, who essentially hunt for stock market bargains. Rather than focus on slower-growing companies with modest valuations, investors have favored white-hot and pricey growth sectors like technology. Over the past five years, large-cap growth funds posted a 24% annualized return, compared with 17.1% for their value peers.

The fund will be run by Bret Stanley and Matt Seinsheimer, who both joined the firm in 1998. Stanley has worked on


AIM Basic Value since then and that fund has done well. Its 14.8% annualized return over the past three years beats 96% of its large-cap value peers, and its 3% gain since Jan. 1 outpaces 87% of its peers, according to Morningstar. Seinsheimer joined Stanley at the helm in March.

The fund's Class A shares will levy a maximum 5.5% front-end load or sales charge. Its Class B and Class C shares carry a maximum 5% and 1% back-end loads. The fund's annual expense ratio is 1.25% on Class A shares and 1.93% on Class B and Class C shares, compared with 1.4% for the average large-cap value fund, according to Morningstar.

Another Nail in Dividends' Coffin

In March

previewed a proxy asking


American Century Heritage and


American Century Select shareholders to OK the elimination of dividends from the funds' investment criteria. On Monday,

American Century

filed paperwork with regulators noting that shareholders had approved the proposal.

In recent years, stocks' yields have fallen quite low, prompting several stock funds to make similar moves. After all, forcing yourself to focus on stocks with solid track records for paying dividends can leave a fund with an inordinately thin and sleepy band of stocks to choose from.

That constriction might have contributed to the underperformance at the two growth funds. Heritage and Select have both lagged their peers over the past three-, five- and 10-year periods, according to Morningstar.