Franklin Resources of San Mateo, Calif. has won shareholders' approval to broaden the scope of its $214 million Franklin Gold Fund. On March 13, shareholders voted to allow the fund to invest in non-gold companies and change its name to reflect the expanded focus. Up until now, the fund invested only in companies involved with the gold trade.

On April 10, the fund will become the Franklin Gold and Precious Metals Fund. While Franklin has no plans to modify the fund's focus on gold, the new fund will be able to purchase equities in firms engaged in the mining process or related businesses of other precious metals such as palladium, platinum and silver. The fund will also change from a diversified fund to a non-diversified fund, allowing managers to hold more than a five percent position in any one company.

Historically low gold prices have driven many of the 37 all-gold mutual funds to expand their focus. On average, gold funds lost 9.99 percent over the past five years and continue to have negative returns so far this year, according to Wiesenberger, the fund data provider in Rockville, Md.

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