Call it the second coming of the Internet funds.
Less than two weeks after the founders of the
announced a new biotechnology fund called
The Medical Fund and the Cure for Cancer
, the founders of
Monument Internet fund are launching a medically focused fund, too.
"It's nothing more than a coincidence," says David Kugler, president of the
Monument Funds Group
of Bethesda, Md. He has been planning the new fund for the last several months. "I've been checking it out on their Web site, and I hope they do great."
The Monument Internet fund, launched just last November, has put the tiny Monument shop on the mutual fund map. The fund has jockeyed with the Internet fund for the top fund spot during most of this year. Monument Internet is returning 85.3% year-to-date, and has swelled to $50 million in assets with 5,000 shareholders. Recently, however, as Internet stocks have come under pressure, the fund's explosive returns have cooled -- dropping 22.5% in the last four weeks.
Alexander Cheung, the Monument manager who posted that return, also will manage the new
Monument Medical Sciences
"There's a lot of crossover" between the work Cheung does for the Internet stocks and those in the health sciences area, Kugler says. Cheung agrees.
"I've always liked technology in general, whether it be space technology or undersea technology. I guess I'm a technology freak," Cheung says. Cheung also says he helped cofound a medical equipment company, though he declines to name it.
The Medical Sciences fund was born of an existing fund Monument opened in 1998 to invest in regional stocks in the Washington, D.C., area. But Kugler said he started seeing a trend toward medical sciences companies in the portfolio, and wanted to expand it on a national level.
Monument started building the new portfolio May 2, and the fund currently holds 22 stocks, says Kugler. Its top holdings include biotech stocks like
-- as well as drugmakers
Drug stocks have been jittery lately over talk in Washington about possible
coverage for prescription drugs. If such legislation is passed, that could impede the pricing power that drug companies have enjoyed for the last decade.
But some analysts say drug stocks will continue to post strong earnings as demand for their products increases. These analysts subscribe to the "boomer" theory, which says that as baby boomers get older, they'll need more drugs and health care and will be willing to pay for it.
Meanwhile, drug stocks have lagged this year -- causing many health care funds to
slip after posting smooth, consistent gains in 1998. But the current slowdown could mark a buying opportunity for drug stocks as well as biotechnology stocks, which crashed in the early 1990s after Internet-like run-ups.
Cheung says things are different in that sector now.
"There was a time when biotech was the subject of considerable hype that it just wasn't able to live up to," Cheung says. "Now, the medical sciences consumer market and its products are finally poised to come together in a very powerful way."
Like Monument Internet, Health Sciences will carry a 4.75% load -- something Monument doesn't mention in the fund fact sheet on its
Web site. It also sports a pricey expense ratio of 1.9%.