Sometimes you meet a manager and you just want to give him your wallet, you feel so good about the guy. Many of you who work at
have been urging me to get together with Richie Freeman, of the
Smith Barney Aggressive Growth fund, because they said he's that kind of guy.
This week I caught up with Richie and his great team of stock-pickers and traders. Their supporters couldn't be more right. With a strategy based on classic long-term investing, low turnover and a cool-eyed assessment of management, Freeman's Aggressive Growth fund has topped just about every chart there is. And that's on his announced performance. I think once we all get used to after-tax-return numbers (now that the Feds have woken up to how important that is), Freeman's fund will really shine.
Unpretentious, yet caught up in stocks the way some are caught up in sports (something I can sure identify with), Freeman is hunting for mid-cap stocks that will end up being large-caps. And, boy, has he found them, bagging great stocks like
long before anybody saw them coming, and riding them for everything they are worth.
When other aggressive growth funds showed their ugly downside last year, Freeman just kept pumping out great numbers, delivering another 20% year, mostly by being overweighted in health care, plain-vanilla growth stocks and solid biotech. Truly impressive. He also steered clear of the dot-com debacle and managed to avoid the lure of the hot-stock-of-the-month club. In fact, the only sizable traditional tech position he came in with this year was
, which, by the way, is one of the few standouts in a totally bludgeoned group. Freeman lives and breathes stocks. By his own admission he is always on the lookout for the next
and he's found far more than his fair share.
If you are looking for a diversified growth fund that won't drop huge when
get whacked, Freeman's fund is for you.
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