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as of 12/31/23
U.S. equities rose sharply in November and December, pushing the broad market indexes into double digits for the quarter and reversing the losses suffered over the preceding three months. Moderating inflation coupled with a softening labor market and a perceived peak in the cycle of interest rate hikes were the main drivers of the broad-based rally. The S&P 500 Index was up more than 26% for the year, closing at a new all-time high, while the NASDAQ Composite Index appreciated nearly 45%. Most of the gains in the broad market indexes came from the so-called Magnificent Seven, which together were up 76% for the year, driven, in part, by excitement surrounding their ability to gain from widespread adoption of artificial intelligence.
Baron Opportunity Fund increased in the quarter. Information Technology (IT), Consumer Discretionary, and Communication Services investments contributed the most. Health Care holdings detracted. IT had a very strong quarter, with all 21 of the portfolio's IT investments advancing. Sector gains were led by top contributor Microsoft Corporation and third largest contributor NVIDIA Corporation. Second largest contributor Amazon.com, Inc. drove appreciation within Consumer Discretionary. Gains within Communication Services were led by Meta Platforms, Inc. Shares of the owner of Facebook and Instagram rose on healthy topline growth and consensus-beating guidance, aided by a broader technology rally. Top detractor argenx SE and third largest detractor Illumina, Inc. drove declines within Health Care.
As we start 2024, it appears the market is trying to find its footing. On the one hand, it continues to be dominated by the macro uncertainties and debates around such hard-to-forecast issues like inflation levels, an economic soft landing vs. a recession, when the Federal Reserve will first cut rates and how many cuts will it make, wars in Europe and now the Middle East, U.S. trade relations with China, and the upcoming presidential election. On the other hand, the market has rewarded many secular growth companies. But the mere act of flipping the calendar sometimes has a short-term impact on market sentiment and trading. Some investors look to sell winners and buy laggards. Every sell-side analyst announces top picks and favorite trends for the new year.
However, arbitrary dates have absolutely no impact on fundamental business trends and secular themes. We remain true to our long-term investment mandate: leveraging our deep in-house research differentiation to identify 1) the powerful and undeniable secular growth trends disrupting industries and driving long-term growth; and 2) the exceptional businesses poised to benefit from these trends with, among other things, durable competitive advantages, cash-generative business models, and double-digit multi-year projected annual returns. We continue to believe that non-cyclical, durable, and resilient growth should be part of investors’ portfolios and that our strategy will deliver solid long-term returns.
as of 12/31/23
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.