Barnett Banks Inc. has expanded its Emerald family of mutual funds, adding four new stock and bond funds.
The bank is trying to meet "a broader range of customer needs," said John Perkner, director of product management and development at the Jacksonville, Fla., banking company.
"You need to be able to mix and match to meet the majority of customer needs, particularly if you are going after the larger market segments," Mr. Perkner said.
Barnett is targeting both middle-income and affluent investors, and older investors with its new offerings, which bring the Emerald Funds lineup to 10 portfolios. The additions are a small-capitalization fund, a balanced fund, a managed bond fund, and a short-term fixed-income fund.
Pattern of Expansion
Barnett's move continues a pattern of banks expanding their proprietary fund lines "to really compete with the big boys, such as Putnam and Fidelity," said Eli Neusner, a consultant with Cerulli Associates in Boston.
"Florida is a market that is very much up for grabs," Mr. Neusner said. "The floodgates aren't going to open" with the new funds, but Barnett is in a competitive position, he said.
The Emerald Funds had $3.3 billion in assets as of March 31, according to Lipper Analytical Services, Summit, N.J.
Mr. Perkner said Barnett expects the new funds to become profitable in 12 to 18 months but declined to project how much new business the bank expects to attract with them. Mr. Neusner said equity funds need about $125 million in assets to break even.
Mr. Neusner said that, given market uncertainty, Barnett would probably sell its balanced fund most aggressively. Such funds invest in a mix of stocks, bonds, and cash to reduce vulnerability to market jolts. Barnett's fund is likely to be attractive to the "uneasy, first-time, unsophisticated fund investor," Mr. Neusner said.
The Emerald Funds have two classes of shares: those with front-end loads and those with a contingent deferred sales charge, or back-end load. The deferred sales charge is levied when an investor takes money out of the fund, and it diminishes over the years.
One of the Emerald Funds - the U.S. Government Securities Fund - placed third among 53 comparable intermediate-term government bond funds in a one-year ranking by total return, according to Lipper Analytical Services.