"We leg into a stock, or buy our position directly from a shareholder when possible," says Corbett. "We don't want to rock the boat." Corbett sells his stocks when they don't meet management's expectations or when a company outgrows its micro-cap status. For example, the fund bought Tractor Supply Company ( TSCO) when its market cap was under $400 million and sold it when it broke $1 billion. When he speaks about his Tractor Supply experience, Corbett sounds like a parent who watched a child develop before heading off to college. He says that feeling of entrepreneurialism and growth is what attracts him to the micro-cap world. "Small business is what this country is all about," says Corbett. "Meeting guys that created multimillion dollar businesses in their garages and watching them grow is pretty cool."
A Mid-Cap Fund Fit for Goldilocks
If the stocks in John Thompson's fund are too big for your taste -- or Corbett's too small -- then Richard Aster's $1.2 billion mid-cap ( MERDX) Meridian Growth fund might be just the right size. But not if you are looking for a traditional mid-cap growth fund, the kind whose manager spends freely for growth no matter the price-to-earnings multiple. Aster has been looking for growing mid-cap companies since launching the fund in 1984. Nevertheless, he drives a harder bargain than the majority of growth managers in that he won't overpay for a stock. The average P/E ratio in Aster's fund is 29.82, which trails the average mid-cap growth fund P/E of 31.91, according to Morningstar. While some might call Aster more of a GARP (growth at a reasonable price) than a growth manager, it's tough to quibble with his results. Meridien Growth has returned 14.56% annually over the past 10 years, beating the S&P 500 by 2.74 over the same period. Over the past five years, the fund has returned 13.38%, a whopping 16.76% better than the S&P.