the Virtue of Simplicity



Growth Manager Jeff Van Harte
Revels in the Virtue of Simplicity



Growth investing in a sluggish economy and tech depression is somewhere around Dante's seventh circle. It's not pretty, nor much fun.

The average growth fund rode high-flying technology and telecommunications picks to heady gains and record inflows in the late 1990s. Now millions of investors are holding shares of these ravaged portfolios where most managers are still clinging to shares of cratered tech favorites like Cisco Systems, which averaged a 15% annual loss over the past three years.

Jeff Van Harte, manager of the $151 million Transamerica Premier Equity fund among others, has fared better than most growth managers in this vicious environment. The reason: He's left the tech altar and found growth in steadier, humbler fare like transaction processor First Data, credit-rater Moody's and United Parcel Service


In the wake of Enron and two down years, many investors are looking to be long-term owners of companies that offer predictable earnings growth, a reasonable price tag and management that they can trust. Who would you point to?

Now more than ever I think you just have to focus on simple businesses that you can understand. I'd probably look to my top three holdings at the moment: First Data, Moody's and UPS. Everybody knows what these companies do. None of them have abused their shareholders with how they account for stock options and they're in good businesses with management you can trust. You have to own business that you can understand and that have positive cash flow to back up their earnings. If you look at a company and can't understand their business or where their earnings are coming from, just stay away from it.