A Star Is Back

Lauded growth-stock manager Tom Marsico, who bolted Janus Funds last summer, opened two no-load mutual funds of his own on Dec. 31. Investors already have put up $19 million. They're hoping he can repeat his showing at the $6 billion Janus Twenty fund, where the 22.4% average annual return over 10 years outpaced the broad market by more than four points.

Marsico Focus will put all its bets on 20 to 30 stocks, while Marsico Growth & Income will invest more broadly. On the buy list? Marsico has a taste for Coca-Cola Enterprises, the bottler that at a recent price of $36 a share is selling for 8.5 times 1998 cash flow estimates. He likes drugmakers, such as Warner-Lambert ($126). He says worries over the side effects of its diabetes drug, Rezulin, are overblown. Long a fan of finance stocks, he remains smitten by Merrill Lynch ($65).

Marsico's shareholders will face a stiffer headwind. The expense ratios-- 1.6% at Marsico Focus and 1.5% at Marsico Growth & Income--are about a half point higher than what Janus investors paid.

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