Thomas Marsico Leaves USAA First Start Growth Fund

Well known stock picker Thomas Marsico has stepped down as manager of the USAA Mutual Fund:First Start Growth Fund (UFSGX), which is aimed at children and their parents.

Marsico's investment firm, Marsico Capital Management, recently notified USAA Investment Management Co. that it wanted to end the arrangement under which it managed the the fund, USAA said in a regulatory filing on Monday.

Marsico, who oversees the Marsico Focus Fund (MFOCX), did not return phone calls seeking comment. A representative of his firm referred questions to USAA. A spokeswoman for USAA said Marsico Capital gave up the fund because it could not provide the level of support services needed to run it. These included giving investors information on why certain stocks were included in the fund's portfolio, she said.

Marsico has been replaced on the $222-million fund by the large-cap growth team of Loomis Sayles & Co. The team consists of stock pickers Mark Baribeau, Pamela Czekanski and Richard Skaggs.

USAA said it chose Loomis Sayles in part because of Loomis Sayles' performance in managing a portion of the assets of USAA Mutual Fund:Growth Fund (USAAX), and USAA Invest Tr:Growth & Tax Strategy Fund (USBLX).

First Start Growth is one of a handful of funds, like Columbia Young Investor Fund/Z (SRYIX), that are intended to teach children about investing, or to help parents provide for their children's future. This year through July, The USAA fund returned 4.2%, versus a gain of 2.9% for its large-cap growth fund peers, according to preliminary data from Standard & Poor's.

USAA also said in the filing that it has added a team of managers from OFI Institutional Asset Management Inc. to run part of the USAA Mutual Fund:Income Stock Fund (USISX).

The team, lead by David Schmidt, OFI's chief investment officer, joined Robert Soucy of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co., known as GMO, in running the $2 billion fund. Both companies use computer programs to decide which stocks to buy and sell.

Contact Bob Keane with questions or comments at: bkeane@investmentadvisor.com.

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