SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Mutual fund companies are beginning to offer new types of funds - and even other kinds of investment products altogether - to remain competitive, said mutual fund executives at a recent industry conference.

Many of these new products virtually guarantee a given return or aim to deliver at least some return even in market downturns. Such products could be extremely valuable for retiring baby boomers seeking guaranteed income, executives said. These products include tax-managed, market-neutral, prime-rate and stable-value funds. Fund companies are also offering non-fund products - separately-managed accounts, hedge funds, unit investment trusts, spiders and other exchange-traded products - to appeal to the affluent market, they said. Executives discussed the trend at the Investment Company Institute's tax and accounting conference here earlier this month.

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