When Jim Atkinson, a director in charge of U.S. operations at Guinness Flight Investment Management, read the June issue of Wired magazine, he was impressed with an article about the Wired Index. The stock index, compiled by the magazine to chart the global economy of the information age, was promoted as the successor to the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Guinness Flight Investment Management already was managing four Asian funds and an international bond fund and was planning a New Europe Fund- all strategic investments in the global economy. So, Wired's new twist on getting a pulse of the global economy intrigued Atkinson.
"I immediately said I want to invest in this concept," Atkinson said. That same month, Guinness Flight filed with the SEC to start a fund based on the Wired index. Then, in July, Atkinson met with Wired magazine representatives to obtain permission to use the Wired name for the fund. The Wired Index Fund is now scheduled to be available to investors Dec. 15.
"On the simplest level, our aim is to do for the information age what the Dow did for its predecessor: track the growth of the companies that are building the new economy - not just the usual high tech suspects, but a broad range of enterprises that are using technology," Spencer Reiss and John Browning, then Wired editors, wrote in the June issue about the new index.
The index is not just a technology index. In fact, technology and telecommunications companies make up only 50 percent of the list, according to documents filed with the SEC. The index is a list of companies that are participating in the so-called "new economy," the filing says.
"The new economy is based on: the use of technology, networks, communication and information; the evolution of globalism, innovation and strategic vision," the documents said.
The 40-stock index includes Internet-related companies like America Online, Yahoo, Charles Schwab and computer companies like Dell, Sun Microsystems and Microsoft. But it also includes Walt Disney, Wal Mart and DaimlerChrysler. Walt Disney and Wal Mart are the only companies listed on both the Wired and Dow indexes.
The Wired Index Fund is exciting people at Guinness Flight because the fund enhances its offerings of "new economy" investments, company officials say.
Guinness Flight, which is based in London, has not created an asset allocation fund family here in the U.S. It currently offers U.S. investors six no-load funds: the Asia Blue Chip Fund; the Asia Small Cap Fund; China & Hong Kong Fund; Mainland China Fund; New Europe Fund and the Global Government Bond Fund. Each fund represents great opportunities in the world economy, says Atkinson.
"The Wired fund is a similar concept," Atkinson said of the Wired Index Fund which will invest at least 85 percent of its assets in companies listed in the index, according to the SEC documents.
Guinness Flight plans to market the new fund through print advertising, direct mail and trade shows. There may, however, be more Internet marketing than for other Guinness Flight funds and some advertising in Wired magazine because of the nature of the fund.
Although it focuses on a lot of high-tech issues and products, Wired does not consider itself to be a computer or Internet magazine. It describes itself as "the journal of record for the future" on its website. It claims to have a circulation just short of 500,000. Atkinson believes the magazine is sufficiently well-known that a broad range of investors will be attracted to the fund.
"I think they've done an exceptional job of building that brand," Atkinson said.
Guinness began offering the New Europe Fund in November.