Cheap Tech Funds
High Yield Funds
There's no shortage of solid growth funds out there, so you might as well choose one that doesn't cost you an arm and a leg.
After big-cap growth stocks' solid run from 1995 through 1999, many growth-fund investors have focused on performance and ignored fees. That said, after the average big-cap growth fund lost some 14% last year, investors might be more interested in looking at funds' price tags as well as their performance.
Of course, it's always a good idea to look at a fund's price tag. Though low fees aren't the sole reason to buy a fund, they are an issue you should consider because seemingly negligible expense differences can cost you a lot of money over the long term. For instance, you might not think there's much difference between a fund with a 1% expense ratio and one with a 2% expense ratio. But on a $10,000 investment earning 8% annually, that extra 1% will cut $7,000 off your return over 20 years, according to a report on mutual fund fees published by
Congress's General Accounting Office
The benefit of having thousands of funds to choose from is that there are plenty of funds out there with above-average performance and below-average fees. Today the Big Screen is singling out a few big-cap growth funds that meet these criteria. We screened the 390-fund category for those that beat their average peer over the past one- and three-year periods. To make our cut, funds also couldn't charge a load or have an expense ratio higher than the category's 1.46% average, according to
Here's a top-10 list of the funds we found, ranked by their three-year annualized returns.
Big-cap growth funds typically buy stock in large companies that are growing their earnings faster than their peers in the fastest growing sectors like technology. As you can probably tell, this list is littered with big-name funds from growth shops known for their knack at picking these companies --
Kicking off our list is
White Oak Growth Stock, where co-managers Jim Oelschlager and Donna Barton have built a solid track record since the fund's 1992 inception. The pair isn't afraid to take big bets on stocks and sectors they like. At the end of September, the fund held 23 stocks, with half the funds' assets in tech stocks and the rest mainly split between health care and financial services stocks.
That approach might be aggressive, but it has worked well. The fund, which has a 1% annual expense ratio, beats the S&P 500 and at least 90% of its peers over the last one-, three- and five-year periods, according to Morningstar. The fund's 31% five-year annualized return beats the S&P 500 by more than 12% and ranks in the category's top percentile.
Michael Sutton took over the
PBHG Large Cap Growth fund in November of 1999 after high-profile manager Jim McCall left to join
. Obviously the fund's impressive longer-term record reflects McCall's skill, but Sutton's ability to weather last year's storm makes this fund an intriguing option.
Sutton used a blend of tech faves like
along with tamer fare like financial giant
and grocery store chain
to lose just 0.2% in 2000. That beat 93% of the fund's peers and led the S&P 500 by almost 9%. The fund, which has a 1.17% expense ratio, is aggressive, but last year's showing implies a flexibility that could be quite helpful.
Fidelity Retirement Growth fund's name might imply a sleepy approach, but don't be fooled. Manager Fergus Shiel, who's held the reins since mid-1996, isn't afraid to move quickly and take big bets. As his tech faves wilted last year, he shifted gears and finished with tobacco shops
RJ Reynolds Tobacco
as his top holdings. Though the fund, which carries just a 0.58% expense ratio, held 109 stocks at that point, 46% of its assets were in his top-10 holdings.
Over the past one-, three- and five-year periods, the fund beats at least 80% of its peers, so Shiel has been right more than he's been wrong. Given his tendency to shift the portfolio, you might want to consider the fund for a tax-deferred account, but for aggressive investors it's still worth a look.
Denver growth-fund titan Janus saw its tech- and telecom-heavy funds sag during 2000's Nasdaq meltdown, but two Janus funds did make our list: the
Janus fund and the
Janus Growth & Income fund. Because the former is closed to new investors, let's focus on the latter, which has a 0.90% expense ratio.
If you're looking for a less aggressive fund run in the Janus style, check out the Janus Growth & Income fund. David Corkins, who took over for Tom Marsico in August 1997, did have about half the fund's assets in tech and telecom stocks, but he also typically keeps 5% to 10% of the fund's assets in bonds to churn out some income, and he isn't too proud to dip into sleepier sectors like financials.
Last year the fund did lose more than 11%, but that still beat more than 60% of its peers. And over Corkins' somewhat brief tenure, the fund has beaten its average peer each calendar year.
One name you might not know that is also worth a look is the
TCW Galileo Select Equity fund, where Glen Bickerstaff has held the reins since 1998 -- a retail version of this institutional fund launched in 1999. He might not be a household name, but he's an aggressive growth investor whom fund guru Ken Gregory picked as his favorite growth fund manager two weeks ago in a
10 Questions interview.
If you're wondering what stocks propelled these funds to our list, we've looked under their hoods. A combined portfolio of the 10 funds that made our cut reflects the market's changing winds over the past year. As you'd expect, we've got tech bellwethers like networking behemoth
, data storage shop
and chip giant
, but you'll also find
American International Group