Stilwell Financial subsidiary Berger Funds of Denver said today that it plans to merge two of its growth funds into other products because of poor performance and increasingly timid investors.

The firm will merge its Berger New Generation Fund into the Berger Mid Cap Growth Fund. It will also merge its Berger Select Fund into the Berger Growth Fund. As a result of the mergers, portfolio manager Mark Sunderhuse, who managed the New Generation and Mid Cap growth funds, will resign by year-end. The moves are subject to shareholder and trustee approval, the firm said.

The New Generation and Mid Cap funds are "no longer a good fit for today’s more risk-averse investors," the company said in a statement. The company said that Berger’s growth funds have "performed poorly during the down market and have lagged their peer groups." In light of that, the firm says it will "take a less aggressive stance" with its growth funds.

"Investors are more conservative and risk-averse and the appeal of aggressive growth funds has been substantially diminished," said Berger CEO Jack Thompson.

Both funds’ performance has fallen sharply since hitting triple digit returns in 1999, according to Morningstar. Year to date, the Mid Cap Growth Fund has returned –39.87% and the New Generation Fund has returned –51.94%. In 1999, the funds returned 151% and 144%, respectively.

Berger, based in Denver, Colo., had $7 billion in assets under management as of Nov. 30.

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