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Dear Dagen: 'I Want My Money Back' Awards Return

Time to share your biggest mutual fund and investing disappointments.

Another year, a different regret.

Last year at this time, I

asked readers to name the funds they regretted buying or owning during 1998.

I'm going to do it all over again for '99.

Share your investing and mutual fund questions on the

Dear Dagen board.

I'm now taking nominations for the second annual "I Want My Money Back" award.

Don't just send me names. Tell me why the funds proved to be such big disappointments to you.

This year, I want to expand the list of potential nominees beyond funds and into all types of investment decisions. Tell me about your own worst moves -- the ones you'd take back if you had the chance.

This market has offered many risky temptations: The tech-fueled

Nasdaq 100

is up 27% since Oct. 15; momentum investing is back in vogue, as represented by

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Qualcomm Inc Report

, up 1,333% in 1999. And then there's the continued fascination with Internet stocks.

If you took a bet on one of the above, you're probably still in the black and are regretting nothing right now. But even an investment that looks like a sure thing could turn out to be an investor's biggest mistake.

TheStreet Recommends

Internet funds looked fantastic early this year, and money was pouring into them about the time they took a dive in the spring. In April, for example, investors threw $1.3 billion into these funds at what turned out to be a short-term peak.

(MNNAX) - Get Victory Munder Multi-Cap A Report

Munder NetNet, for example, was up 54.1% during the first quarter of the year. But during the second quarter, the fund only returned 3.1%, and it lost 3.4% during the third.

Though this fund is up 49.2% over the past 13 weeks, I'll bet there are some investors who bought it at the top and sold at the bottom -- regretfully.

A barrage of online-brokerage advertisements for cheap trades could have induced you to trade too much, whimsically moving in and out of various stocks -- regretfully.

An unhealthy fixation on the

Federal Reserve

and its high commander,

Alan Greenspan

, could have turned you into a market timer and caused you to move your portfolio in and out of cash -- regretfully.

I'm ready to hear everyone's biggest regrets and peeves. Email me at

deardagen@thestreet.com with all the lurid details -- and your full name.

Last Year's List

Some of the funds

indicted by readers at the end of 1998 could certainly make the hit list again this year.

Disgruntled investors recently chastised the

(KAUFX) - Get Federated Hermes Kaufmann R Report

Kaufmann in this space for its

large capital-gains distribution and its subpar returns.

(STDIX)

Strong Discovery continues to suffer. This small-cap fund is down 7.9% for the year, while the

Russell 2000

index has gained 8.3%.

However, some of the most reviled funds from last year have pulled their noses out of the dirt. Many investors may actually regret unloading these funds too early (or too late), proving that there's no easy way to decide when to sell.

(RSCOX)

RS Contrarian, the fund that earned the most negative votes in last year's poll, has bounced back after years of middling, if not dreadful, performance. In 1999, the fund has climbed 27.8%. But with its five-year average annual return of almost zero, investors probably won't be flocking back to this portfolio anytime soon.

(BRWIX) - Get AMG Boston Common Global Impact I Report

Brandywine felt the slings and arrows last year as a result of manager Foster Friess' mighty move into cash at the beginning of 1998. In a year that the

S&P 500

was up 28.6%, this fund was down 0.7%. But this year, the fund is up 43.1%, riding a big position in technology.

After two years of negative returns, American Century's

(TWGTX) - Get American Century All Cap Grth Inv Report

Twentieth Century Giftrust is up 58.4% this year, performing better than 80% of the funds in its category, according to

Morningstar

. The turnaround should be welcome relief for investors, who are required to hold the fund for at least 10 years.

Benefitting from a resurgence in momentum stocks, Garrett Van Wagoner's funds have come back with a vengeance. All five of his funds sport triple-digit returns this year, led by his

(VWEGX)

Emerging Growth's 246% 1999 performance. But once momentum stocks fall out of favor, which they invariably will, this fund will likely take a drubbing -- and wind up being someone's biggest mistake for 2000.

Tracking Distributions

Fidelity

,

American Century

and

Harbor

have posted information about their funds' capital-gains distributions on their Web sites.

Links to these sites have been added to our ongoing

list of fund distribution information.

Dear Dagen aims to provide general fund information. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell funds or other securities.