Back to Black in August -- Barely

Stock funds just inched into positive territory in the dog days of summer, and gold-stock funds made a triumphant return

Given the carnage in the markets in July -- major indexes hit their lows for the year on July 24, and stock funds fell an average of 10% that month -- August's barely positive mutual-fund returns were a welcome relief. The average U.S. diversified stock fund was up 0.2% for the month (a bit worse than the 0.7% return for the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index), and the average bond fund gained 1.3%. Year-to-date, the average stock fund, like the S&P 500, is down 19%. In contrast, the average bond fund is up 4.6% so far this year.

The best performing funds for the month were those that invest in stocks tied to the price of gold and other precious metals. The average precious-metals fund gained 15.5%. That's quite a difference from July, when the average precious-metals fund dropped some 17%. August standouts included Midas (MIDSX ), up 19%, and Fidelity Select Gold (FSAGX ), up 18%.


  Latin America funds gained 7.2% on average for the month. The top stock fund was iShares MSCI Brazil Index (EWZ ), up 22%. Note the volatility in Brazil's markets in recent months: This fund was one of the worst performers in July, when it fell 30%.

Only a few diversified equity funds achieved notable gains in August. A quirky one that did well was Fidelity Advisor Leveraged Company Stock (FLCBX ), which invests in fast-growing companies with a lot of debt. It gained 14% in the month, but it's down 17% for the year. New York Equity (NYSAX ), a large-cap growth fund, gained 13% in August. Year-to-date, it's down 42%. A fund with good numbers for the month and the year is the all-cap Yacktman Fund (YACKX ). It gained 9% in August and is up 8.7% so far in 2002.

Technology funds were the month's worst performing stock-fund group, down 2.8%. Two Berkshire family funds, Technology (BTECX ) and Focus (BFOCX ), were among the worst performers -- both down 10% in August. Health-care funds fell an average of 1.6% as biotech took it on the chin. World (GENEX ) was down a punishing 10%.


  International funds fared a bit worse than U.S. equity funds in August, with several foreign categories modestly in the red. Funds that invest in Asia and Japan were down about 2% on average. International funds fell an average of 0.3% in the month.

On the fixed-income side, emerging-market bond funds staged a nice rally, gaining 6.4% in August. The next-best-performing category was stodgy old long-term government bond funds, which gained 2.7% in the month. August wasn't a terrible time to be in stock funds, but investors who sought safety in bonds continued to be better served.

August A-List Funds

AIM Global Financial Svs A

AIM Global Health Care A

AIM Mid Cap Core Equity A

ARK Small Cap Equity Retail A

Advisors Inner Circle FMC Select

Amer Century Equity Inc Inv



Ariel Appreciation

Armada Small Cap Value I

Artisan International

Artisan Mid Cap

Atlas Assets Global Growth A

Baron Growth

Berger Small Cap Value Inv

Bjurman Micro Cap Growth

Bridgeway Aggressive Investors I

Bridgeway Ultra Small Company

Bridgeway Ultra Small Company Tax Adv


Calamos Growth A

California Investment S&P Mid Cap Index


Conseco Equity Y

Diamond Hill Bank & Financial A

Dodge & Cox Balanced

Dodge & Cox Stock

Dreyfus Index Fds Midcap Index

Eaton Vance Wldwd Hlth Sciences A

Exeter Defensive A

FBR Financial Services A

FBR Small Cap Financial A

FBR Small Cap Value A

FMI Common Stock

FMI Focus

Federated Mid Cap Index

Fenimore Asset Management Tr Value

Fenimore Equity Income

Fidelity Advisor Healthcare B

Fidelity Advisor Mid Cap T

Fidelity Export & Multinational

Fidelity Fifty

Fidelity Japan Small Co

Fidelity Low Priced Stock

Fidelity New Millennium

Fidelity Select Air Transportation

Fidelity Select Brokerage & Investment

Fidelity Select Insurance

Fifth Third Strategic Income Adv

First American MicroCap Y

First American RE Sec Ret Y

First Eagle Fund Of America Y

First Eagle SoGen Overseas A

Franklin Microcap Value

Fremont US Micro Cap Instl

GAMerica Capital A

Gabelli Investor ABC

Gabelli Value A

Galaxy Sm Cp Value Trust

Hennessy Cornerstone Growth

Hotchkis & Wiley Mid-Cap Value I

ICON Financial

ICON Healthcare

ICON Information Technology

ICON Leisure and Consumer

IDEX Janus Balanced B

ING International Small Cap Growth A

INVESCO Leisure Inv

Janus Adviser Balanced

Janus Adviser Capital Appreciation

Janus Adviser Core Equity

Janus Aspen Cap Appreciation Instl

Janus Aspen Core Equity Instl

Janus Balanced

Janus Core Equity


Julius Baer International Equity A

Kinetics Internet

Leuthold Core Investment

Liberty Acorn Z

Liberty Select Value A

Longleaf Partners

Longleaf Partners Small Cap

Lord Abbett Mid Cap Value A

MS Fincl Svcs Tr B

MS Hlth Sciences B

MS Instl Small Co Gr B

MS Instl US Real Est A


Mairs & Power Balanced

Mairs & Power Growth

Marshall Mid Cap Value Inv

Matthew 25

Matthews Asian Growth & Income


Meridian Growth

Meridian Value

Merrill Lynch Global Small Cap B

Merrill Lynch Healthcare B

Mosaic Equity Tr Mid Cap

Mutual Discovery Z

Mutual European Z

Mutual Financial Services A

Navellier Perf Mid Cap Growth

Needham Growth

Neuberger Berman Genesis Inv

Oakmark Equity & Income I

Olstein Financial Alert C

One Group Mid Cap Value I


PBHG Large Cap Value

PBHG Mid Cap Value

PIMCO RCM Global Health Care

PIMCO Renaissance A

Parnassus Income Equity Inc

Quaker Aggressive Growth A

Royce Low Priced Stock

Royce Micro Cap Inv

Royce Opportunity Inv

Royce Pennsylvania Mutual Inv

Royce Total Return

Royce Trust & Giftshares Inv

Security Capital US Real Estate

Security Mid Cap Value A

Sentinel Small Company A


Smith Barney Aggressive Growth A

Smith Barney Security & Growth A

Standard & Poor's MidCap 400 Depositary Rcpt

State Street Research Aurora A

Stratton Monthly Dividend REIT

Strong Dividend Income

Succer Micro Cap Invest

T Rowe Price Capital Appreciation

T Rowe Price Financial Services

T Rowe Price Mid-Cap Value

Thompson Plumb Balanced

Thompson Plumb Growth

Tocqueville Small Cap Value

Touchstone Emerging Growth A

Transamerica Premier Balanced Inv

Transamerica Premier Growth Oppt Inv

Turner Small Cap Value

Tweedy Browne Global Value

Value Line Emerging Opportunities

Value Line Special Situations

Van Kampen Equity and Income A

Vanguard Capital Opportunity

Vanguard Health Care

Vanguard International Explorer

Vanguard LifeStrategy Income

Vanguard Wellesley Income

Vontobel US Value

WM West Coast Equity A

Waddell & Reed Adv Asset Strategy A

Waddell & Reed Adv Science & Technology A

Wasatch Core Growth

Wasatch Micro Cap

Wasatch Small Cap Growth

Weitz Partners Value

Weitz Value

Wells Fargo Strategic Income I

William Blair International Growth N

By Amey Stone in New York

Edited by Patricia O'Connell

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