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New Service Tracks Fund Managers


There is a new service on the Web that gives retail investors a look at the decision making of fund managers and enables them to use this decision making to guide their own stock picking. Not only is this Internet upstart likely to be disseminating information some mutual fund companies will object to, but it may impel fund companies to begin providing the same information themselves.

The service is offered through The Mutual Discovery Network, an online stock and fund-tracking service that is based in Philadelphia.

The new venture, which started taking subscriptions on March 10, was created by Jeffrey Steinberg, former founder of the Food Court Entertainment Network, a television network that broadcast in food courts that has since filed for bankruptcy. Steinberg said he left that business in 1996 in a disagreement with management.

Steinberg says that his new website (www.mutualdiscovery.com) is breaking ground in collecting valuable trading and performance data about mutual funds for retail investors.

"It's kind of like a magnifying glass on the mutual fund industry," Steinberg said.

Services for which users pay include The Steinberg Indicator, which rates individual stocks as bullish or bearish based on how fund managers are trading them. Another service for which users pay is Fund Locator, which finds which mutual funds and institutional funds are holding particular equities.

The Steinberg Indicator costs $99 annually and Fund Locator costs $799 a year. Both services are being marketed under the Fast Check name and are found at www.fastcheck.com and The Mutual Discovery Network website. There are now over 1,000 subscribers to the two paid services, Steinberg said.

While the Steinberg Indicator is aimed at retail investors, Steinberg believes there is a use for Fund Locator by money managers and analysts at mutual fund companies who want to see which funds have positions in certain stocks. Forbes Magazine is using Steinberg's data for The Forbes/Barra Wall Street Review column under the heading "What the funds are buying and selling."

Steinberg is not researching the data himself. He gets it from CDA/Wiesenberger and Lipper Analytical Services. CDA/Wiesenberger is a division of Thomson Financial Services as is Securities Data Publishing, the publisher of this newsletter.

Steinberg says that not all mutual fund companies will appreciate what he is doing because companies do not like reporting their stock holdings to shareholders.

"With some, they'll be a friend, and with some, they'll hate me," Steinberg said. "They don't want people to know what they're doing."

The free services include Efundreport.com, which sends an e-mail to registered users whenever their mutual fund reports holding changes to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Efundreport offers reporting information in a quick and easy-to-read format, even as the fund may be relaying the same information to shareholders in paper reports, said officials at the Mutual Fund Discovery Network.

"I think that mutual fund families will copy what I've done in a year or two," Steinberg said.

Other free fund services include the Fund4you.com service, the Fundsin1.com service and the Fundsinview.com service.

The Fund4you.com service allows registered users of the site to find mutual funds that invest in the companies they like.

The Fundsin1.com service, which is not yet operating, is intended to allow users to hypothetically combine their funds to determine their portfolio's overall asset and sector allocation. The Fundsinview.com service allows users to compare performance of individual funds and fund families.

Steinberg says that no one is offering similar services on or off the Internet. He believes that his customer base will largely come from those who are doing online trading and research.

"No one's breaking down a mutual fund like we're doing," Steinberg said.

The Mutual Discovery Network is currently a small operation with only a handful of people working on the staff. Steinberg says that he eventually wants to move his operation to New York. He would consider going public if the market for his services made it worthwhile, he said.

He is also exploring the possibility of having his services offered on other popular investing websites.

New Service Tracks Fund Managers

By Larry Rulison

There is a new service on the Web that gives retail investors a look at the decision making of fund managers and enables them to use this decision making to guide their own stock picking. Not only is this Internet upstart likely to be disseminating information some mutual fund companies will object to, but it may impel fund companies to begin providing the same information themselves.

The service is offered through The Mutual Discovery Network, an online stock and fund-tracking service that is based in Philadelphia.