Last week this column featured some noteworthy mutual funds that died in 2007. Here are a few more: • Boyle Marathon: In 2000, as...

Share story

Last week this column featured some noteworthy mutual funds that died in 2007. Here are a few more:

Boyle Marathon: In 2000, as the market started into a bear period, Boyle Marathon was the top large-cap blend fund, with a gain of roughly 85 percent.

It was the fund’s only appearance atop the charts, as performance proved uninspiring from then on.

Along with the Reynolds funds, Boyle proved that any fund can get to the top of the charts for a short time. Finishing the race and building a reputation are something completely different.

The n/i Numeric Investors funds: It was a sad end to a fine shareholder-friendly fund family that took a quantitative approach to running money, but the guys behind the Numeric Investors funds thought they needed to focus on the rest of their money-management business.

The funds represented $450 million of more than $13 billion under management.

The closing meant a significant capital-gains problem for investors who held Numeric in taxable accounts.

The moral of the story is that when mutual funds are an afterthought to a firm’s money-management business — and that happens a lot — shareholders must forever worry that managers could just walk away.

Guerite Absolute Return: This fund never made it to its first birthday.

Management said the fund was built to make money in all market environments but, upon further review, management turned out to be the former chief financial officer of a Carolina-based subprime mortgage lender, and the environment for anything even remotely tied to subprime was all wrong.

• Firsthand Health Sciences fund: The Firsthand funds have a lousy record doing what they do best — traditional tech funds — so it was unclear why anyone would gravitate to this fund when it opened in 2006.

Apparently, no one did, as management threw in the towel after 18 months.

Just because a fund company thinks it has a good idea doesn’t mean it’s right.

Symphony Wealth Ovation: When this fund opened in early 2006, its college professor-turned-chief-portfolio-manager boss said it “combined the power of a dynamic asset allocation framework to take advantage of changing market conditions, with the exceptional control that ETFs provide, and [we] have created an investment strategy that we believe gives investors a better opportunity to realize the efficient frontier we’ve all heard so much about.”

Investors didn’t get it, and they didn’t buy it.

That’s the lesson this fund leaves behind: If you can’t explain to your loved ones — in less than a minute — what a mutual fund does, don’t expect the fund to support your loved ones.

Chuck Jaffe is senior columnist at MarketWatch. He can be reached at cjaffe@marketwatch.com or Box 70, Cohasset, MA 02025-0070.