A Star of the '90s Rebounds

After six disappointing years, small-company specialist Warren Isabelle appears to have righted his ship.

When Warren Isabelle opened Ironwood Isabelle Small Company Stock nine years ago, investors had cause to cheer. They could now buy a no-load fund run by a manager who had produced sterling results at the helm of Pioneer Capital Growth, a fund that levied sales fees. Isabelle didn't disappoint -- at least not at the outset. In 1999, the fund's first full year, it gained a rousing 49%.

But the next six years were lean. Although Ironwood made money in five of them (including the down years of 2000 and 2001), it wasn't the kind of performance that earned Isabelle bragging rights. In fact, Ironwood regularly trailed its peers -- funds that focus on small, bargain-priced companies.

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