A QUITE remarkable document titled 'Memo for internal use only' appeared in a brown envelope on our desk a little while ago. It was an internal evaluation of a unit trust investing in Hong Kong stocks, and reported - quite correctly - that the fund had consistently underpeformed the Hang Seng index. Also, as fundholders sold their stocks through the slow Crash of '94 the fund manager sold off the best stocks instead of the worst, so the underperformance steadily got worse. Well, nothing odd about that. Often fund managers' performance is damaged by fundholders wanting cash when the market is doing badly, just at the time the fund manager would like to be buying bargains. What really caught our eye is the bit starting 'switching of the stocks in the portfolio has been kept to a minimum.' The document states: 'This seems to be a strange situation as switching of the constituent stocks not only shows the fund is trying to keep abreast of corporate opportunities, but also generates commission for us, as trades will add to our brokerage's turnover.' In other words, the fund manager is being blamed for putting the interests of the fundholders first, rather than churning stocks to generate brokerage commission. Unfortunately, we can't name the company. And we'd like to add that a couple of unit trust managers in rival companies were genuinely appalled when they found out about this, so it's certainly not industry practice. But it demonstrates that in days when the world's most boring investment - Swiss franc money funds - top the league of best-performing funds, as they did this week, investors have to be particularly careful where they put their cash. Pasta joke WE speculated a couple of days ago that Merrill Lynch had designed a financial instrument called the SAFARI because they liked the name, rather than because of strong investor demand. That's appropriate because our friends in the world of bonds report there has been a mysterious shortage of people who seem to have bought them. Either they all are sitting in cupboards at Merrill Lynch or they have gone back to the country where the underlying securities came from, Italy. The wonderful possibilities of strange acronyms were underlined by the witty analyst in Britain who gave this verdict on one of the listed companies controlled by Robert Maxwell: Cannot Recommend a Purchase. Unfortunately, Big Bob worked out the joke and had the chap fired. Now that we know Big Bob was a crook, the analyst's verdict might have been the most perceptive ever passed on a Maxwell company. Satisfaction THE Rolling Stones have emerged as big winners from the collapse of the dollar and triumph of the yen. We hear they rather wisely negotiated that their contract for last month's tour of Japan be paid after the tour finished, in yen. Mick Jagger and his friends collected about two billion yen for their performances, and between the signing of the contract and payment of the cash the currency movement delivered them an extra US$2 million. The other cultural fallout could be in the fine art market - that's presuming the Rolling Stones count as culture. Perhaps they should be counted as archaeology. Although the many existing Japanese insurance firms who hold classic paintings are expected to lose even more thanks to the dollar's collapse, some art dealers are hopeful that the new even cheaper prices may tempt some back into the market. 'Well' water 'I DRANK several gallons, but oddly enough feel about the same,' comments Edmund Tiryakian of Tai Tam Road, who was lucky enough to find the drinking water above. Sadly, the days when mainland products had exaggerated health claims such as this seem to be passing. China's new consumer laws make it an offence to make such claims unless there are medical statements to back them up, so when they are introducing a new product now, manufacturers are getting edgy about claiming, for example, that their 'health cigarettes' cure cancer. Now, you've got to go to Burma - as Edmund did - to find new examples. It reminds us of the man who went often to a drug store to buy 'Number 1 Brain-improving tablets'. One day he said, 'I'm not buying any more. I'm no smarter than before.' 'See,' said the attendant, 'they're working.'