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as of 03/31/23
Stocks mostly increased during the first quarter, with the Russell 2000 Growth Index advancing 6.07%. The first two months were more or less a continuation from the end of 2022, with the market’s primary focus on inflation and the Federal Reserve’s next move. That shifted dramatically with the unexpected collapse of Silicon Valley Bank on March 10. Concerns about contagion and the overall health of the banking sector sent shares of many financial institutions into a steep slide. The Fed acted quickly to quell the panic, assuring depositors with assets above the FDIC insurance threshold that they would be made whole. With the banking sector narrowly averting a crisis, and mid-sized and regional banks facing renewed scrutiny and tighter regulations, market expectations are that the SVB failure may act as an additional headwind to an already slowing economy due to higher interest rates. As a result, some investors are now anticipating that the Fed will, in fact, pull back on its aggressive tightening program.
Baron Growth Fund advanced 7.88% in the quarter. Holdings within Financials, Information Technology (IT), and Health Care contributed the most. Industrials and Real Estate investments were material detractors. Top contributor MSCI Inc. led positive performance within Financials, while third largest contributor ANSYS, Inc. led gains within IT. IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., a leading veterinary laboratory diagnostics company, and West Pharmaceuticals Services, Inc., which makes components for the delivery of injectable drugs, drove appreciation within Health Care. Top detractor CoStar Group, Inc. led negative performance within Industrials. Depreciation within Real Estate was driven by Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc., a life sciences office and facilities REIT, and Douglas Emmett, Inc., an office and apartment REIT with a portfolio concentrated in Los Angeles and Honolulu.
The near-term outlook remains highly uncertain. Investors are still weighing the possible impacts of SVB’s failure on the economy, including credit availability and corporate earnings. Inflation appears to have peaked, with economists now projecting a yearly rate of around 4.0% by the end of 2023, although this number is still ahead of the Fed’s targeted rate of 2.0%. While the job market remains strong, there are signs it is cooling, and housing prices have trended lower due to higher mortgage rates.
As long-term investors, we look past the short-term noise, which we believe is largely unpredictable, to stay true to our time-tested investment process, assembling and managing a portfolio of what we view as well-managed, competitively advantaged companies with durable growth opportunities at attractive valuations.
as of 03/31/23
Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses of the investment carefully before investing. The prospectus and summary prospectuses contain this and other information about the Funds. You may obtain them from the Funds’ distributor, Baron Capital, Inc., by calling 1-800-99BARON or visiting www.BaronFunds.com. Please read them carefully before investing.
The performance data quoted represents past performance. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate; an investor's shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. The Fund’s transfer agency expenses may be reduced by expense offsets from an unaffiliated transfer agent, without which performance would have been lower. Current performance may be lower or higher than the performance data quoted.
Risks:All investments are subject to risk and may lose value.
The discussion of market trends is not intended as advice to any person regarding the advisability of investing in any particular security. The views expressed on this page reflect those of the respective writer. Some of our comments are based on management expectations and are considered “forward-looking statements.” Actual future results, however, may prove to be different from our expectations. Our views are a reflection of our best judgment at the time and are subject to change at any time based on market and other conditions and Baron has no obligation to update them
Portfolio holdings are subject to change. Current and future portfolio holdings are subject to risk.
The index performance is not fund performance; one cannot invest directly into an index.