You might want to ditch your sagging big-cap growth funds right now, but this is the type of market that can show which ones are worth hanging on to.
Big-Cap Value Funds
Big-Cap Growth Funds
Saturday Screen Roundup
Let's face it, these funds aren't looking good these days, down more than 26% on average over the last 12 months, according to
. They have some 40% of their money in the tech sector, which explains their success in 1999, when they almost doubled the
21% gain, and also their current implosion. During the bonny days between 1995 and 1999, these funds often trounced the S&P, but due to their current malaise they lag the popular benchmark over the past one-, five- and 10-year periods.
Growth, Sort Of
Source: Morningstar. Annualized performance figures through March 1.
When you also consider that these funds got more than half of all net fund sales last year, it's natural to figure there are lots of investors who wish they hadn't loaded up on these once-hot funds. That said, it's not a good idea to dump all of them, since they are a core part of any diversified portfolio. After all, big-cap growth funds make up some 35% of the
Wilshire 5000 Total Stock Market Index
, a common yardstick for the broader market.
If you're looking for funds with this label that might be worth keeping or investigating now, look no further because the Big Screen has done its dutiful snooping. We combed through this 400-fund category, screening out all funds that lagged their peers over the past one-, three-, five- and 10-year periods. We also tossed out any funds that carry an expense ratio above the category's 1.46% average, and then we yanked out any that had fallen further than their average peer in down months over the past three years.
That left us with 11 funds and here they are, ranked by their 10-year annualized returns.
This is an intriguing list with plenty of solid choices, many of which are broker-sold funds. Let's start at the top, shall we?
In running the broker-sold
Smith Barney Aggressive Growth fund since its 1983 inception, manager Ritchie Freeman has built a solid track record. He typically buys fast-growing small- and mid-cap stocks, frequently holding them as they graduate into large-caps. The fund beats the S&P 500 and at least 90% of its peers over the past one-, three-, five- and 10-year periods, according to Morningstar. Freeman's outsize 41.5% stake in health care stocks helped quite a bit last year, but might weigh on returns this year.
MFS Massachusetts Investors Growth Stock fund has also quietly built an enviable record. Co-managers Stephen Pesek and Thomas Barrett have held the reins for just two years, but they follow a style similar to their predecessors', focusing on stocks of fast-growing companies in fast-growing industries. They also have a deep bench of analysts to draw on.
The fund has high turnover and has taken its lumps over the past year, losing more than 23%. That said, it does routinely beat its peers and would be worth a look for long-term investors using a broker.
Two lesser-known, broker-sold gems on the list are
Growth Fund of America and the
Amcap fund, both from quiet giant
. The Los Angeles-based firm is the third-largest fund shop in the nation behind only
, but because it sells its funds only through brokers it doesn't do a lot of advertising or mass-market promotion. You might not have heard of these funds, but they are worth a look.
Both team-managed funds follow moderate strategies that typically focus on growing companies with stocks that aren't as dear as the broader market or competitors'. That often keeps the funds from turning up on top-10 or highflier lists, but it keeps them out of the cellar too --
we've sung the firm's praises before.
Yes, both funds have a knack for beating their racier peers, but what's far more impressive is that they both managed to post gains during last year's rocky market.
You can't blame no-load investors for feeling a bit left out. Still, there are no-load funds on our list, like
Warburg Pincus Capital Appreciation,
Atlas Growth & Income and
Westcore Growth & Income. Other no-load funds you might check out that didn't make our list due to recent performance are
Harbor Capital Appreciation, where the venerable Sig Segalas holds the reins, and the
Vanguard Growth Equity fund, where aggressive co-managers Bob Turner and Chris McHugh are being hit hard by tech's fall but still have a solid long-term record.
Curious about what stocks propelled the funds on our list? Well, we looked into that, too. If you combined these 11 funds' portfolios and sifted out their 10 favorite stocks, you'd be left with the stocks below. Granted, it's not too surprising, with battered networking bellwether
and blue-chip conglomerate
, but this list does show the degree to which companies like energy powerhouse