T. Rowe Price adding 2 funds

Both will invest in foreign equities and aren't for timid

Investing

September 02, 2000|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. is launching two new equity mutual funds that are not designed for timid investors.

The T. Rowe Price Emerging Europe & Mediterranean Fund, which began operating yesterday, will invest in nearly a dozen emerging countries, including Israel, Greece, Russia and the Czech Republic.

The second fund, the T. Rowe Price Global Technology Fund, which is being overseen by star fund manager Charles A. "Chip" Morris, has been approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission and will begin operating Sept. 30.

The company expects the Global Technology Fund to grow much faster than the Europe & Mediterranean Fund given investors' current thirst for technology stocks.

Price is starting the fund because "there are many companies that are attractive as international leaders in technology that are outside the U.S.," said Steven E. Norwitz, a spokesman for the Baltimore mutual fund company, which manages 85 funds and $179 billion. "If you missed the technology wave in the U.S. you might be able to replay it and sort of catch that wave over again."

The fund will invest anywhere from 40 to 50 percent of the portfolio in a wide range of international technology companies, and the remainder in U.S. firms, Norwitz said.

Money will be pumped into Internet infrastructure companies, semiconductor, computer hardware and software, and communications businesses, according to the prospectus.

The fund might also invest in the initial public offerings of global technology firms.

But it isn't an investment for people who shy from risk taking.

"Since this fund is focused on technology industries, it is less diversified than stock funds investing in a broader range of industries and, therefore, could experience significant volatility," according to the prospectus.

Morris, who manages the T. Rowe Price Science & Technology Fund, which last year returned 100.99 percent, will oversee Global Technology. His research team will work closely with Price's international research team.

Price's Europe & Mediterranean Fund is also not for conservative investors. It is designed to let people diversify their international holdings in countries that have plenty of economic potential, but have been historically shaken by political and economic upheaval.

While the risks are great, the countries "offer significant long-term growth potential for investors who are willing to put a portion of their international assets in a very aggressive vehicle," said Christopher Alderson, who oversees emerging market investing for T. Rowe Price International.

Alderson said Israel has a vibrant technology market and has invested heavily in pharmaceutical development, while Russia has companies that are world-leading oil, gas and mineral producers.

"These markets, we feel, now have the breadth and liquidity of making them a viable investment ... that they didn't have before," Norwitz said.

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