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A Patient Approach to Aggressive Growth

David Kathman, CFA, Ph.D.

David Kathman: ClearBridge Aggressive Growth (SHRAX) is a $15 billion fund and has an Morningstar Analyst Rating of Silver. It's had a variety of names over the years. For a long time, it was known as Smith Barney Aggressive Growth and then Legg Mason Partners Aggressive Growth. But for all of that time, it's been managed by Richie Freeman, who has been around since 1983; although since 2009, he's had a comanager, Evan Bauman.

As the name implies, they look for companies that are growing quite a bit faster than the S&P 500, preferably high-quality companies without a lot of debt--good businesses. What makes this fund stand out from its peers is that it has really low turnover. They have a really long time horizon and hang on to stocks for a long time. That's led to really great returns over time. Although in the short term, it can be kind of lumpy if the things that they own are out of favor for a while.

That was true for a while back in 2006-07; but then eventually they turned around, and for the past five years, this fund has been one of the best performers in the large-growth category, because of its health-care and, especially, biotech names that have performed spectacularly well. So, it sometimes might take a little bit of patience, but over time it has really rewarded shareholders handsomely.