Although the market was hammered this month by subprime loans, individual mutual funds aren't likely to have much exposure to the volatile sector. Most subprime lenders are small-cap companies, and, as such, funds won't have large amounts of cash invested in them. In addition, most mutual funds are diversified.

"Diversity is what saves you from an event like this," Jeff Tjornehoj, senior analyst with Lipper, told the Associated Press. "Some of the worst offenders among subprime lenders were generally not considered sizable holdings."

Harry Clark, president of Clark Capital Management, agrees: "A lot of funds have pieces of them, but I don't think a lot of funds have big chunks of them because they're pretty risky to start with."

To be invested in home finance, Tjornehoj continued, "is extremely sector-specific. It's almost like you're overweighting in subsectors. If you are that invested in a sector, you darn well better keep your eye on the ball at all times."

However, Andrew Gunter, an analyst with Morningstar, said the steep decline in subprime loan stocks, and its overall detrimental effect on the market, could cause a temporary run on a wide range of lending and homebuilding stocks.

"[Investors'] worries about subprime lenders might have been overblown," Gunter said. "This is the kind of thing that happens with an industry-specific fund. It can be subject to the whim of what's out there. It can get clobbered because it's not diversified."

(c) 2007 Money Management Executive and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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