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Birla Advantage

Despite an erratic past, the fund is an attractive aggressive growth issue with a since launch return of 14.09 percent.

Aggressive management with plenty of built-in volatility has earned Birla Advantage a total return of 14.09 percent since its launch in February 1995 through September 17, 2001.

The fund wholesomely gained from the technology boom -- up 52 per cent in 1998 and another 308 per cent gain in 1999. Birla Advantage was a bigger beneficiary of the technology lead boom being an early participant with sizable position. In 2000, the fund looked like a technology fund - with tech stocks accounting for an average 56 percent in 2000. But vapourising technology stock values, the fund landed up at the bottom with 40 percent loss during 2000 as against the 26 percent shedding by its peers.

There has been no place to hide so far in 2001. While tech being the hardest hit, just about every other sector has also floundered. As a result, the fund had shed more than 30% of its value for the year to date through September 17, 2001, a bit more than its average peer.

Now, the fund has a radically changed stance on technology, with concerns of overvaluation and deteriorating fundamentals. The fund's tech holdings have declined sharply from an average 65 percent in 2000 to 10 per cent now eliminating the likes of Visualsoft, ZEE Telefilms, Wipro, Satyam Computers from the portfolio, while keeping only small positions in stocks such as Infosys, Moser Baer and HCL Technologies. But the fund argues that the current position in the sector is not permanent and the same will be reflected in the future allocation. Meanwhile, the fund now carries a bulky pharmaceutical weighting, and its exposure to consumer non-durable sector is also larger than technology. Currently, the fund has the largest cash position in its history -- 20 percent as on August 31, 2001.

Despite its erratic past, its is an attractive aggressive growth issue. While it likely won't shoot out the lights like it did early in 2000. But its focus on spotting opportunities early should guide it to solid results over the long haul. However, the fund could be very disappointing for a medium-term investment horizon.