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Fund Times

Fund Times: Openings, Closings, & Manager Changes

Fremont, Firsthand Funds, Strong, E*Trade, Munder, and Kinetics.

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The bear market for technology stocks has made room for new investors in a couple of once hot funds, a couple of fund families think there's plenty of juice left in energy stocks, and Strong Investments has decided to take complete control of one of its subadvised value funds.

Openings
Ten months after closing its doors to new money, Fremont U.S. Micro-Cap (FUSMX) will reopen to new investors on Tuesday, January 16. Fremont Investment Advisors closed the fund last March after investors enthralled by the fund's nearly 130% return in 1999 flocked to the offering and pushed its asset base over $1 billion. Then the Nasdaq Composite crashed and took technology-reliant funds like this one with it. In the second half of the year, the fund, which keeps more than half of its assets in technology stocks, dropped by nearly 28% and assets, through market depreciation and shareholder withdrawals, shrank by 42%--from more than a $1 billion to $628 million at the end of December. When Fremont closed the fund, it was attracting about $25 million per day--too much for manager Robert Kern to invest effectively in the smaller, more illiquid names he likes, said Allyn Hughes, the firm's spokesman. Closing the fund has allowed Kern, who always has kept a sizable pile of money on the sidelines, to pare back his cash stake and put money to work, Hughes said. However, even with $628 million in assets, Fremont U.S. Micro-Cap remains one of the biggest micro-cap funds in Morningstar.com's database. When you count in the institutional version of the fund, Kern has more than $830 million to invest in a corner of the market where it pays to be small and nimble, notes Morningstar.com analyst Bradley Sweeney

Dan Culloton does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.