A mutual fund managed by State Street Research and Management Co. beat out 3,887 other equity funds ranked by Lipper Analytical Services to win the title of best performing equity fund for 1996.

The State Street Research Global Resources Fund, which features an aggressive strategy investing primarily in small-cap energy companies, returned 70.3% to investors over the 12 month period.

In an interview, portfolio manager Dan Rice credited his great year to consolidations in the industry, which buoyed four of his top 10 holdings during the year.

The top 10 holdings account for 35% of the funds' investments, he said.

Mr. Rice, who has managed the fund since its inception in 1990, looks for companies he expects to grow between 10% to 15% in the coming year, assuming flat oil and gas prices. He looks for a company's debt to be less than one year's cash flow.

The fund, which now has $121 million in assets, returned 25.8% over three years, 22.9% over five years, and 9.7% since inception.

Mr. Rice said 1996 performance will be tough to beat, but sees the fundamentals of energy and energy services to be sound going into 1997.

Boston-based State Street Research had $42 billion in total assets at year end.

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