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Mutual Funds

New Boss, Same Stock Strategy

Another change in ownership doesnÕt faze the managers of Columbia Acorn Select. when ameriprise financial recently acquired the parent company of Columbia Acorn SelectÕs adviser, it marked the third time in the past decade that the ownership of the Acorn funds had switched hands. But regime change is unlikely to have much impact on AcornÕs operations. Select, 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 theyÕre worth. But, he says, ÒweÕre not totally oblivious to whatÕs going on from a big-picture point of view.Ó 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 Õ90s 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, a Colombian energy producer. Since he first invested, the firmÕs 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, a contract electronics manufacturer, and ITT Educational Services, an operator of schools. The fundÕs Class Z shares are generally closed to new investors; the Class A shares (symbol LTFAX) levy a 5.75% sales charge. STACY RAPACON