Running with a fast crowd has helped Alliance Premier Growth Fund come out in front.
It is hardly a surprise that this offering's assets have exploded. Many investors have been tantalized by the fund's mouth-watering returns in recent years.
In 1998 alone, the fund notched a gain of nearly 50 percent for the year, beating out every one of its peers -- not to mention walloping the S&P; 500 index. (The fund is looking slower in 1999, however, owing in part to its stake in McKesson HBOC, which imploded in April.)
The primary performance driver has been manager Alfred Harrison's aggressive investment style. One glance at the fund's portfolio shows that this offering is no shrinking violet. It contains only 50 or 60 names at any given time, and Harrison stores a lot of assets in the fund's top holdings and among his favorite sectors.
For example, the fund's current stake in technology issues takes up 33 percent of stock assets. That affection for technology was a boon in 1998, especially during the market's fourth-quarter rally. Top picks such as Nokia were particularly helpful as Harrison rode them to dizzying heights.
Harrison also pays up for strong growers, which worked to the fund's advantage during 1998's growth-frenzied market. Its average price-earnings ratio is one of the highest in the large-blend group, and is even higher than that of the typical large-growth offering.
Harrison isn't standing still, though. He's trimmed some of his priciest technology stocks on strength, and has added to stodgier names such as Atlantic Richfield. Even with such changes to the portfolio, though, this fund should never be viewed as mild-mannered.
Indeed, the occasional nasty spill -- such as in April when the fund lagged behind its average peer by a noticeable margin -- demonstrates why this is one of the most volatile offerings in its group.
That said, its top-notch long-term record shows that it's a fine choice for the brave growth investor.
Alliance Premier Growth B
Fund manager: Alfred Harrison, CFA Fund Investments
Largest investment sector: Technology
Style: The fund's median investment is in value and growth stocks of companies with large market capitalizations.
Total returns as of 11/19/1999
Three-year annualized: 33.48%
Five-year annualized: 32.56%
Risk vs. domestic equity funds: Above average
Morningstar rating: 5 Stars
Maximum sales charge: 4.00%
Phone number: 800-277-4618