Funds That Focus on Innovators

Fund Watch

Funds That Focus on Innovators

Invest in a collection of groundbreaking companies via these actively managed funds and ETFs.

Given the difficulties in determining whether a company can translate innovation into profits, you may prefer professional help in spotting the next big thing. Two mutual funds, Fidelity New Millennium (symbol FMILX) and Baron Opportunity (BIOPX), are worth a look. New Millennium manager John Roth holds a mix of sometimes-volatile, high-growth companies balanced with steadier, bargain-priced fare. Among his holdings: Tesla Motors (TSLA), Google (GOOG) and Illumina (ILMN). He also owns KEYW Holding (KEYW), a cyber-security play. Roth keeps his stakes in the most speculative com­panies small at the outset, increasing his investment only as a company proves itself. “The more long term the bet, the smaller the position,” he says. From the time Roth became New Millennium’s manager in July 2006 through December 31, the fund returned 9.6% annualized, compared with 7.4% for Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index.

See Also: 5 Stocks to Cash in on Innovation

Baron Opportunity manager Mike Lippert invests thematically. Current themes include DNA sequencing (Illumina is a top holding) and Big Data, a catchall phrase that refers to collecting and applying advanced analytics to massive quantities of fast-moving data. Lippert owns Acxiom Corp. (ACXM), a marketing company at the forefront of behavioral, or targeted, advertising, which harnesses information about consumers to serve up ads that are relevant to their interests. Other themes Lippert likes include mobile technology, cloud computing and electric cars. “You have to go where the growth is,” says Lippert, “but you have to be patient for some of these things to play out.”

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A host of exchange-traded funds allow you to sample up-and-coming themes while diversifying your investment among several holdings. You can invest in cloud computing—external data storage that’s accessible from anywhere through the Internet—via First Trust ISE Cloud Computing Index (SKYY). The Robo-Stox Global Robotics & Automation ETF (ROBO) includes companies in such businesses as unmanned vehicles, 3D printers and medical robots.