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By Christopher Franz, CFA |

A Recently Upgraded Small-Cap Fund

We boosted Baron Small Cap's rating to Silver due to the strength of both its manager and its long-term investment approach.

Christopher Franz: We recently upgraded Baron Small Cap to Silver from Bronze due to the strength of its manager and investment process. Cliff Greenberg has led the fund since its 1997 inception and seeks companies with a market cap between $1 billion and $2 billion with strong, competitive advantages and stable cash flows. Greenberg, who is a firm partner at Baron Capital and once served as its director of research, embodies the firm's trademark, long-term investment approach, with an annual portfolio turnover level often less than 20%. This sometimes means that his small-cap stock picks can turn into mid-cap stocks, making the Russell 2500 Growth Index a more appropriate measuring stick than the small-cap Russell 2000 Growth Index. Regardless of the benchmark, Greenberg has delivered solid outperformance over his 20-year tenure, despite above-average investment expenses. He had a tough stretch from 2013 to 2015, partially due to his underweightings in healthcare and biotech, an area he typically doesn't invest in, but is back to form in 2017 through October, due to strong stock picks across the board. The fund is a fine option for patient investors seeking small- and mid-cap growth exposure.

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