Firstar Corp.'s investment management subsidiary has launched a balanced income fund aimed at conservative investors.

Kicking off with $26 million, the Portico Balanced Income Fund aims to maintain a 50-50 mix of equities and fixed-income securities, said Warren Pierson, a portfolio manager at Firstar Investment Research & Management Co.

Bonds in the fund are drawn from those in the Lehman Brothers Intermediate Government Corporate index, said Mr. Pierson, who manages the bond portion of the portfolio. All corporate bonds in the fund are investment-grade, he said.

The equity portion, meanwhile, emphasizes companies that pay large dividends, Mr. Pierson said. It is managed by Marian Zentmyer.

Mr. Pierson said the company has noticed "some people dialing down their equity exposure and increasing their fixed-income exposure," given recent market volatility.

The fund brings to 18 the number of portfolios in the $5.1 billion proprietary Portico Funds. It is managed by Firstar Investment Research & Management, which manages $22.4 billion of assets.

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