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Muriel Siebert & Co.


STRONG ENTERPRISE FUND



Like new funds, young aggressive managers and big-time performance figures? Then here's a fund that fills that bill.

It takes a while before a mutual fund can build up historic performance figures or rating and ranking companies like Lipper Inc. or Morningstar begin printing those returns. While that's a plus for investors who aren't interested in funds unless they have established track records, those on Wall Street know that some brand new funds have reported dazzling performance figures right out of the box. So, even though there's no telling whether those super numbers can or will continue, sometimes getting in on the ground floor can pay off.

The Strong Enterprise Fund, (800-359-3379), for example, has been around less than one year. But since it began in late September of 1998, it's per share price has gone from around 10 to 20 bucks in just nine months.

Look closer at the numbers and in 1998 the fund's total return was up 47.43 percent. Through June 30th this year, it was up 40.62 percent, ranking it 13th out of 420 mid-cap funds, according to Lipper Inc.. That's not too shabby for a fund managed by a 29-year old.

Andrew Cupps is Strong's Enterprise Fund's portfolio manager. Along with being young, he's aggressive and likes investing in themes; will bail out of a stock---or investment theme---if the tide seems to have turned; and is more concerned about total return than saving investors a few bucks come tax time. "If you have an IRA or something that you can defer taxes in, this is a wonderful product, " he says. "If not, you might end up paying more in taxes. But with the higher returns, you still may be able to put more in your pocket."

One of the investment themes that proved rewarding for Cupps earlier this year was Internet stocks. At one point the fund had about 28 percent of its assets invested in them. During the second quarter, as the market changed, Cupps cut those holdings to about 12 percent of assets and moved money into a different arena; semi-conductors and capital equipment stocks. Now, that's where about 22 percent of the fund's assets are invested.

"We were trying to think about changes and the prospect of inflation, " explains Cupps. " And whenever we are threatened with the prospect of inflation going higher---and therefore interest rates going higher---the most susceptible stocks are the highest multiple stocks. Which, in this market, defiantly are Internet stocks. So we decided to look for a group of stocks that had more reasonable price earnings multiples, and, would do better in a strong economy."

That's the search that led him to semi-conductor and capital equipment stocks. Both having relatively low multiples and plenty of upside potential.

Currently there are about 40 stocks in the fund. That's less than the 50 to 60 stocks Cupps would prefer to hold, but, because of his confidence in the semi-conductor and capital equip groups, the fund's assets are invested in fewer companies.

One of the companies he's a fan of is SanDisk. That's a company he says supplies the "quote unquote 'film' " to digital cameras. Cupps said that growth in the camera market is projected to go from 2 million units in 1998 to 29 million units in 2002.

If taking chances is something you like and the idea of upside potential outweighs your need for steady constant returns or dividend income, this fund could be worth a look. But pass on it if your tax sensitive and prefer only investing in only large blue-chip companies. After all, Cupps says "It's our job to try to figure out how the world is changing. And, how we can best position our investor's capital to take advantage of those changes." And that kind of perspective means taking some aggressive chances.

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