Sometimes the market tells you which funds to go with. After the devastating turn this market took last week, I thought it would be a good idea to run a screen about which tech funds, predominant tech funds, are still up for the year. If these funds can withstand the hammering that just took place and make money, can you imagine how well they will snap back if tech ever bottoms? The results are eye-opening.
In first place, up 17%, is the
Matthews Asian Technology fund. Japan's been getting clobbered of late, but these managers, led by G. Paul Matthews and Mark W. Headley, have diversified into China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, and the bet seems to be paying off. I don't care much for Japan, but these other markets seem more robust than I thought going into the year. That said, this is a play on worldwide technology, which has a bright future even if the
doesn't cut fast. An interesting alternative to U.S. tech.
Second place: The
Kinetics Internet Emerging Growth fund is up 16%, with about $4.4 million under management. This fund was killed last year. I like cats too much to say what I think is behind this bounce. If I were in this fund, I would use the strength to go. I don't think these folks are anything but bull-market players. January effect writ large. That Kinetics surfaces, frankly, shows you the problem of doing screens without some human commentary.
Third place goes to
Needham Growth. This fund should be watched -- and not just because it is still up 16%. Run by Peter Trapp, a seasoned fund manager (meaning he has seen more than the 1996 to 2000 bull market), Needham Growth is in some tech stocks that aren't big-cap. That makes Sense, because I think that's where the value is. I like this fund. Going into this year, the largest positions were obscure names like
and health care provider
. You won't get hit by
weakness owning this fund.
Fourth place belongs to
Seligman Communications and Information fund, also known as the Paul Wick fund. Paul, a friend, has successfully extricated himself from a lot of wounded big-cap tech and had also, like Needham, focused on some mid-cap names. Well done! Paul got clocked last year, down 38% and I think he is worth betting on for a comeback. He gave back some performance last week, but is still up 11%. If you own no tech and you want some tech exposure and are afraid to pick a stock, Wick's $3.85 billion fund might be for you. Paul's a no-nonsense kind of guy and a relentless tire-kicker. I think his strong showing despite the weakness in the
shows me his has his head on straight after a difficult year. I really like that.
Once you get to fifth place, the drop is so steep that it might not be intriguing. Nevertheless,
Weiss Millennium Opportunity, up 5.54%, deserves a mention because it advertises that it shorts stocks as well as going long. That could be the kind of fund you need to balance out tech longs. Although the fund was down 8% last year despite its ability to short, it may not be such a bad idea to have this conservatively managed fund in your portfolio.
Why even focus on tech at all, given that tech stocks are in the doghouse and in general come in last place in the
Investors Business Daily
charts of groups to avoid? Why bother? Because, as terrible as the stocks are, you know that the future still belongs to tech. We just don't know yet if the the worst is priced in. That's why it might be a good idea to find a manager who can weather the downturn without getting you killed.
As you know, I prefer other areas much more than tech, but I recognize the power of tech. These funds may be the chicken way to play, but they play nonetheless.
James J. Cramer is a director and co-founder of TheStreet.com. He contributes daily market commentary for TheStreet.com's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO. Outside contributing columnists for TheStreet.com and RealMoney.com, including Cramer, may, from time to time, write about stocks in which they have a position. In such cases, appropriate disclosure is made. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to send comments on his column to