April 20, 2004 -- AIM Investments today replaced the team that manages the $8.5 billion AIM Premier Equity Fund/A (AVLFX) in an effort to improve its performance.
The new 10-member team is headed by Ronald Sloan, who is also the lead manager of the AIM Charter Fund/A (CHTRX) and the AIM Mid Cap Core Equity Fund/A (GTAGX).
AIM also announced that Jay Rushin, the co-manager of the $2.3 billion AIM Aggressive Growth Fund/A (AAGFX) since 2000, has taken over as its lead manger. He succeeded Robert Kippes, who is leaving the fund company.
Premier Equity's former lead manager, Robert Shelton, and two of the fund's former co-managers, Abel Garcia and Kellie Veazey, are still with AIM, but their duties remain unspecified "pending review," said company spokesman David Bachert.
The fund's two other former managers, Meggan Walsh, and Michael Yellen, continue to oversee other AIM funds. Walsh is the lead manager of the AIM Diversified Dividend Fund/A (LCEAX), and Yellen holds the same position with the AIM Global Health Care Fund/A (GGHCX).
Bachert said AIM replaced Premier Equity's managers to try to boost the fund's returns. Premier Equity has lagged similar funds and the Standard & Poor's 500 index in recent years.
Premier Equity rose 24.9% in 2003, versus 28.2% for its large-cap growth fund peers, and 28.7% for the index. The For the five years ended in March, the AIM fund lost 5.2%, on average, versus losses of 3.6% for similar funds, and 1.2% for the index. The portfolio is ranked 2 Stars by Standard & Poor's.
The fund's investment style will not change under its new managers, Bachert said. It will continue to look for growing companies whose shares are reasonably priced, he said. But the new team will make changes in the size and concentration of the fund's portfolio, AIM said in a notice to shareholders.
AIM said the fund will increase its holdings to 150-200 from 80-100, and will reduce the percentage of assets held in its top ten holdings to 20%-25% from 30%-35%. The fund will also reduce the overlap between its holdings and those in the S&P 500 to 30%-40% from 40%-50%, the company said.
The fund's new managers include Lanny Sachnowitz, who leads AIM's large-cap growth team, and Bret Stanley, who directs the firm's basic value investment group.
AIM said Kippes, who has helped run the Aggressive Growth Fund since 1992, will step down at the end of May to "pursue personal interests." Karl Farmer, who joined the fund a year ago, continues as a co-manager.
Farmer is also the co-manager of the AIM Mid Cap Growth Fund/A (AMCAX), for which Rushin is the lead manager. Rushin also is a co-manager of the AIM Emerging Growth Fund/A (EMEAX).
Bachert said the Aggressive Growth fund will continue to invest in growing small and mid-sized companies.