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Large-growth funds hurting, but their day will come again


Large-growth funds have had a bit of a comeuppance this year.

Whereas a large technology weighting was a one-way ticket to big returns in 1999, several of the most widely owned technology names have since stumbled. Microsoft, Lucent, Nokia and America Online have all foundered, wounding Analyst Picks such as Marsico Focus, Janus Mercury, and Vanguard Growth Index.

Among the Analyst Picks, Gabelli Growth has been replaced by Vanguard Growth Equity. Here's a roundup of our current large-growth Analyst Picks:

* Janus Mercury: Most of Janus' large-growth funds have struggled this year. Mercury is bound to be plenty volatile and the velocity of its asset growth remains a worry. But it is run by Warren Lammert, who has delivered the goods thus far.

* Harbor Capital Appreciation: Returns have been remarkably consistent from year to year, and its solid showing thus far this year is no exception. Those terrific long-term numbers, combined with low expenses, helped land this fund a slot in Morningstar's 401 (k) plan.

* Vanguard Growth Index: This offering doesn't have the flexibility to dip into smaller caps or buy value stocks, so it's about as pure a dose of large-cap growth as you're likely to find. That has been something of a drawback this year, as a couple of its index's top names have gotten hammered but the fund's long-term returns have been nothing short of spectacular.

* Marsico Focus; When pricey big caps are running hard again, this fund is bound to be at the heart of the action.

* Vanguard Growth Equity: Vanguard added this fund to its lineup this year. The fund's adviser, Turner Investment Partners, has used a disciplined approach to deliver superb returns.

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