A PIONEERING FUND
There's something to said for a fund that's been around since 1928.
The Pioneer Fund, (800-225-6292), the flagship fund of the Pioneer family, is one of those growth and income funds that has stood the test of time and come out ahead. With its value-driven approach to investing, its average annual total return, since inception in February 13, 1928, through March 31, 2000, has been 13.52 percent. Not too shabby for a fund that's often thought of as kind of staid.
But it's the fund's slow and steady process that keeps the fund's portfolio manager forging ahead." In the Pioneer Fund, we are as concerned about risk and volatility as we are about return," says John Carey, portfolio manager on the fund since 1986. "We don't want to scare the shareholders. We want to provide them with a good steady return."
Looking to invest in good companies that haven't been participating in current rallies is Pioneer's style---as is taking a long-term approach to investing. That's why Microsoft was a recent buy and Sun Microsystems and Oracle recent sells. (The latter two were purchased when out of favor).
Now tech companies now the heftiest industry sector in the Pioneer Fund, it accounted for nearly 22 percent of the fund's holdings at the end of the first quarter, what follows are Carey's views on technology stocks:
Q. Why do you think we've seen the recent correction in tech stocks.
Carey: I think there are several reasons: the extreme overvaluations of many tech issues, rising interest rates and the slowdown in equity financing.
Before the correction, the market was caught up in the tech euphoria and investors were willing to pay high prices for those stocks. At some point, however, the levels simply got out of hand. Many had no basis in reality and the market began to recognize that.
Q: What about the IPO (initial public offering) market. Have things there changed?
Carey: The IPO market and equity financing in general has slowed quite a bit. It's become much more difficult for just anyone to go to the market and raise money by selling stock. Underwriters have become much more discriminating. So too have investors.
Q: Do you feel technology stocks are attractive investments in the current market environment?
Carey: Absolutely. You just have to know where to look. Our goal in the Pioneer Fund is to buy stocks at prices that will provide a platform for above-average earnings appreciation over at least three to five years.
Case in point, Microsoft. Prior to this spring we never had a significant weighting in it. We bought a token position late last fall when the stock price dropped, just to get our feet wet. But over the past several weeks, when the stock fell precipitously, we built up a full position in the fund. We now have a little more than one percent of the Fund's assets invested in Microsoft shares.
Q: What else have you been buying?
Carey: We'll, we've recently added Koninklijke Phillips Electronics, a Dutch electronics company. We also bought a company called Synopsys, it provides software to semi-conductor manufacturers and we've beefed up our position in Motorola.
Q: What about the new economy old economy stock debate. Does it hold any water?
Carey: I think that the differences between the new economy and old economy stocks are going to blur and that investors will begin to realize that many of the old economy companies are not as stogie as people believe.
On the other hand, there will be a lot of new economy companies that have old economy business problems to solve. Ultimately, what it comes down to is that all businesses have to provide goods and services to their customers in a timely fashion if they are going to profit and survive long-term.
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