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Mutual Funds

New Boss, Same Stock Strategy for Columbia Acorn Select

Another change in ownership doesn't faze the managers of this fund.

When Ameriprise Financial recently acquired the parent company of the Acorn funds' adviser, it marked the third time in the past decade that the ownership of the funds had switched hands. But regime change is unlikely to have much impact on Acorn's operations. Columbia Acorn Select (symbol ACTWX) , which usually holds about 50 stocks, remains in the hands of Ben Andrews, who became manager in 2004.

Working with about two dozen analysts, Andrews searches for fast-growing small and midsize companies that sell for well below what the team thinks they're worth. But, he says, "we're not totally oblivious to what's going on from a big-picture point of view."

For example, about three years ago, believing that the price of oil would stay above $50 a barrel for at least the next three to five years, Andrews and his team looked to Colombia, where political strife in the late '90s had led to a big drop in production. But trouble in the South American nation has abated in recent years, and Andrews saw opportunity in Pacific Rubiales (PEGFF.PK), a Colombian energy producer. Since he first invested, the firm's production has increased tenfold and the stock has quadrupled. All told, the fund has 15% of its assets in foreign stocks. Its biggest holdings include Sanmina-SCI (SANM), a contract electronics manufacturer, and ITT Educational Services (ESI), an operator of schools.

The fund's Class Z shares are generally closed to new investors; the Class A shares (LTFAX) levy a 5.75% sales charge. (See Buy Load Funds Without the Load.)