Nonmedical investing is limited

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Investors seeking to avoid health-care companies represent a small segment of a fast-growing trend in finance.

Almost 10 percent of the dollars under management in the US is guided by a socially responsible investing strategy.

However, within this trend, nonmedical investors are a small minority. Just one mutual fund - American Trust Allegiance (up 6.8 percent for the quarter, according to the fund company) - deliberately avoids health care, says Steve Schueth of the Social Investment Forum in Washington.

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The Noah Fund and the Timothy Plan screen firms involved in abortion (hospitals, pharmaceuticals, insurance). Their religious guidelines also eschew firms in pornography, gambling, tobacco, and alcohol, as does American Trust.

Investors can also pick individual stocks - risky for amateurs - but such screening requires diligence, since many companies' medical involvement lies outside their core business.

Nonmedical sector funds offer another option, but one that is narrow and volatile. Technology - heavily involved in high-tech medical equipment - and retail - which includes giant pharmacy chains - are out, for example.

That leaves such sectors as banking, housing, energy, precious metals, consumer, and airlines. Fidelity offers a variety of such sector funds.

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