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Three Managers, Three Brands, One Fund

John Laupheimer regards his mutual fund as "three brands instead of one."

Mr. Laupheimer is lead co-manager for the Massachusetts Investors Trust (800-637-2929), the oldest mutual fund in the United States, and one that focuses on big-cap stocks, those of large companies.

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The fund also offers a case study in a "team approach," and how it delivers performance. Besides Laupheimer, Massachusetts Investors Trust has two other co-managers, Kevin Parke and Mitchell Dynan.

Started in 1924, the fund gained 22.8 percent this year, through July 18. For the past five years, through June 30, the fund returned an average 20.1 percent each year.

The management style is unusual. Each of the three co-managers operates a mini-fund within the fund. The results of these sub-funds combine into one portfolio of the entire fund.

The three managers compete among themselves. Each is accountable for part of the fund's performance, and they backstop each other. The result is reduced volatility. "Shareholders are not dependent on any one person," Laupheimer says.

Worried about a market downturn? Not Laupheimer, although he concedes a correction could always occur. But his fund is currently more than 95 percent invested in stocks. Among the larger holdings in the overall portfolio are British Petroleum, Norwest Financial, DuPont, Gillette, and Bristol Myers Squibb. Laupheimer favors companies with solid performance and lower, rather than higher, valuation ratios.

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