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Mutual Funds

Spectra Revives

An old Alger fund is near the top of the growth charts -- again.

Spectra fund has a long history. Begun as a closed-end fund in 1968, it converted to a regular fund in 1996. In the hands of Fred Alger Management, a high-octane growth specialist, the fund returned a spectacular 32% annualized from 1991 through 1999 (compared with 21% for Standard & Poor's 500-stock index). But it stank during the 2000Ð02 bear market, returning -71%. It was during this period -- on 9/11, to be precise -- that the firm lost chief investment officer David Alger and 35 other employees who worked in the World Trade Center.

But now no-load Spectra is back at the top of the charts among large-company growth funds, as the adjoining table shows. (SM&R Alger Aggressive Growth, a broker-sold version that levies sales charges, is nearly identical.) Patrick Kelly, the fund's manager since 2004, searches for dynamic companies that he thinks can surpass Wall Street's expectations. "Ideally, I want a company that's taking market share in a rapidly growing market and for which our view on earnings differs from the consensus," says Kelly.

He isn't afraid to trade. Turnover last year exceeded 200%, meaning Kelly held stocks for less than six months, on average. And Spectra is hardly a pure large-company fund. According to Morningstar, almost half of the fund's $214 million in assets are in small and midsize companies. One piece of good news: Spectra is capping annual fees at 1.5%.