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During the boom times, it was hard to tell the difference between a fund manager who knew how to pick stocks and one who was just jumping on a bandwagon.

Nowadays, it's painfully obvious.

The fund industry is bloated with risky, concentrated funds run by inept managers. They are leftovers from the late '90s, when scores of funds were launched to bet on the latest new thing, from Internet commerce to wireless communication. The market collapsed, and so did these funds.

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It's time somebody cleaned house. If the fund companies won't get rid of these funds, then investors certainly should.

In a column I wrote

last week, I nominated some funds that are ripe for tossing. Readers have since stepped up to suggest many more that should be headed for the junkyard.

One lesson: Be very careful before you jump into another fund that bets on a narrow slice of the market, or one run by a manager with limited experience. You won't be able to tell if the guy is talented or just lucky until it's way too late.

Tech Wreck

The Nasdaq had fallen 64% from the high it hit in March 2000. Technology funds, understandably, look awful. But some are much worse than others.

"Up to about September 2000, it seemed that all the mutual-fund 'reporters' were shouting all kinds of praises for

(ROGSX) - Get Red Oak Technology Select Report

Red Oak Technology," writes reader Louis Long. "If you listened to the recommendations, you would think that they could do no wrong. But where is all the positive chatter now, or for that matter, any chatter at all?"

"I would definitely recommend this

Red Oak fund as a candidate for the junkyard," Long says. "While we're at it, let's haul off


Invesco's Telecommunications fund, too."

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Tech funds have been bad, but Red Oak Technology has been horrible -- it's fallen 37.3% in the last 12 months, trailing 94% of other tech funds.

When you buy a tech fund, you're already making a very risky bet. The Red Oak fund takes this a step further. It only owns about 25 stocks, and in the past has focused on just a few areas within the tech market -- some of which, like telecom equipment, look irretrievably broken. If you're going to buy a sector fund in the future, you should look for one that isn't so concentrated.

First to Drop Firsthand

A few readers also had some choice words for the



"Any list of funds that should be put out of their misery has to include all of the Firsthand offerings," writes Woody Rudin, who thinks manager Kevin Landis deserves corporal punishment for "his unwillingness or inability to protect investors against the devastating losses that occurred when his bubble imploded."

The firm's flagship


Technology Value fund held up well in 2000, but it finally cracked last year. It's down 28.1% in the past 12 months. At least Landis has a team of analysts out there trying to do hands-on research and find undiscovered companies, though. That's more than you can say for some tech-fund managers.

Reader Don Cowan nominates the


AIM Global Telecom & Technology fund. Why anyone would have bought this fund in the first place remains to be seen. It didn't do well when tech stocks were going up, and it didn't hold up on the way down. The fund's five-year annualized return is minus 6.5%, which puts the fund in the bottom 5% of its category. The brokers who are selling people this fund should be hauled off to the woodshed, too.

Janus Misery

Tech-only funds aren't the only ones that have lost lots of investors' money. Many growth-fund managers made big, bad bets on tech and telecom as well.

Janus' problems and mistakes have been well-documented, but some investors just want the funds to go away. "How about putting


Janus Twenty out of its (and my) misery?" writes Marilyn Khan.

Misery is a good word to describe what this fund has given shareholders over the past few years. Its three-year annualized return of negative 14.2% is worse than the performance of 93% of the other large-cap growth funds.

A number of the firm's funds have delivered rotten returns in recent years. Janus produced great performance in the '90s by riding big tech, media and telecom stocks but didn't, or couldn't, move out of them quickly enough as these sectors started to crumble. The firm was also a big owner of


-- and that's another matter altogether.

But don't expect Janus to close its Twenty fund or others. Janus Twenty, for example, still has $13.7 billion in it. Based on the fund's management fee, it's bringing in $89 million a year for the fund company. But if you're unhappy or just plain mad with the performance, you can dump it.

Dare to Change

Other big fund companies aren't free from scorn either. The

(FDEGX) - Get Fidelity Growth Strategies Fund Report

Fidelity Aggressive Growth is a particularly bad fund. A new manager took over the fund about two years ago, and performance has gone nowhere but down. But Fidelity is not the kind of fund company to let this go on forever. If the returns don't improve, this manager might be replaced.

Frankly, that's something every fund company should be willing to do. But it doesn't happen nearly often enough.