Despite a wave of bailouts, few asset management firms pledge unequivocally to defend the $1 net asset value of their money market mutual funds, a survey by an industry newsletter found.

Only three of 22 asset managers contacted by Money Market Insight said would they definitely prop up their money market funds if the portfolios were on the brink of "breaking the buck." They were United Services Investment Management Co., United Services Advisors, and Charles Schwab & Co.

Over the past year, numerous asset managers, including several banks, have stepped forward to prop up money funds that had lost value. Among them: BankAmerica Corp. and First Chicago Corp.

All told, 35 money market funds have been bailed out by their management companies, according to Peter Crane, editor of the newsletter published in Ashland, Mass., by IBC/Donoghue.

"The bailouts implied that most of the larger companies would stand behind their funds," Mr. Crane said. But the survey suggests that "a lot of the fund companies are stepping back and saying they wouldn't want to guarantee their funds.

"Every action they've taken so far demonstrates otherwise," Mr. Crane added.

The survey included responses from five banking companies' money management subsidiaries. Three - Bank of Boston, Chemical, and BankAmerica - said their decision to prop up a fund would depend on the circumstances. Mellon Bank Corp.'s Dreyfus Corp. unit said it did not expect to encounter the problem. Chemical Banking Corp. declined to comment.

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