Better Know a Stock Picker

Welcome, Fools, to part 11 of our several-thousand-part series, "Better Know a Stock Picker," which is loosely, but not too loosely, based on Stephen Colbert's "Better Know a District" from The Colbert Report.

Like Stephen and his thorough investigations into America's congressional districts, each week I take a look at a fund you may want to own. What's on tap this week?

Marsico Growth (MGRIX)

Expense ratio


Fund size

$2.46 billion in assets

1-year return


5-year return


10-year return


Source: Marsico Funds

Top 10 holdings


% of Assets

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH  )








Burlington Northern (NYSE: BNI  )


Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  )


Procter & Gamble




Lehman Brothers


Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  )


Source: Marsico Funds

Meet Tom Marsico
The fightin' team at Marsico Growth is led by Tom Marsico, who was a star at Janus (NYSE: JNS  ) before leaving in 1997 to set up his own funds. As manager of the Janus Twenty, he delivered a 17% average annual return over 10 years, good enough to rank among the top 10% of his peers.

But Marsico isn't just about his stock-picking zazz. He's been giving millions to local Denver schools for years, including both the University of Colorado and Denver University. He's an alumnus of both colleges -- he earned his undergraduate stripes at CU before securing an MBA from DU.

Public education also interests Marsico. In March, he spoke about investing in education to a group that supports the district where his three kids attended school. But he also takes a broader view. When asked about whether most people consider school funding a priority, Marsico told the Denver Business Journal, "It's not a primary concern, I don't think, and that's troublesome to me."

As it should be. Marsico knows who the real heroes are in everyday life and on the Street. He's not going to let the value-huggers who've been whining about market-beating dividends get to him, even if his signature growth fund is down 5.5% versus a 2.6% gain for the S&P 500 this year.

How he invests
Why should he? He's zagging at exactly the right time. Blue-chip growers have taken a beating over the past several years, and they now appear exceedingly cheap. But Marsico's not just searching for bargains in his backyard. He recently told Kiplinger's that he's casting his gaze abroad: "Obviously, emerging markets are growing at a much more rapid rate than the G-7 countries, so that's where we're looking for growth."

Smart. Just don't expect him to blow it all on some fly-by-night Indian curry kitchen. He's making big bets on stable firms poised to take advantage of the massive growth under way in up-and-coming nations. Some of those companies include Caterpillar, which is selling record amounts of construction equipment to Asia, and America Movil (NYSE: AMX  ) , a fast-growing wireless carrier based in Mexico that trades for just 13 times forward earnings. Wooooo!

Is this fund for you?
So, is Marsico the next Peter Lynch? Maybe, maybe not. But at a relatively modest 1.26% expense ratio, a bet on Marsico Growth could pay off huge when (not if) blue chips come back, especially firms with outsized exposure to high-growth opportunities overseas. Marsico Growth has those in spades.

Still, percentage points matter, and there are cheaper options in the Motley Fool Champion Funds portfolio, including one fund that's up 2.4% so far during 2006 and charges a modest 0.86% annual expense ratio. (It's also one of many long-term winners for advisor Shannon Zimmerman; try the service free for 30 days to learn more.)

And that's this week's profile. See you back here next Thursday, fund nation. Good night.

Think you can't beat the market with funds? Think again! The selections in Shannon Zimmerman's Motley Fool Champion Funds portfolio are up an average of 16%, versus just 7% for their comparable benchmarks. Ask us for an all-access pass to get an unfettered look at all of Shannon's picks, manager interviews, and model portfolios. Go ahead; it's free for 30 days, and there's no obligation to buy.

FedEx is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. UnitedHealth is a recommendation of both Stock Advisor and Motley Fool Inside Value.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a regular viewer of The Colbert Report. (Stay the course.) Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what else is in Tim's portfolio by checking his Fool profile. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.

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