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Top-Performing Closed-End Funds

International funds have been on a three-year tear, and Latin America has been the best destination for international investors in that time.

We all know the mantra of the mutual fund industry that past performance is no guarantee of future results. But that's not to say there's no value in taking a look back. Ratings has compiled a list of the 25 top-performing closed-end funds (exchange-traded funds not included) for the three years ended April 30. The investment destinations blanket the planet.

Latin America was the focus of the top three performers for the period, each of which rewarded their holders with returns averaging more than 50% per year.

A trio of other funds from that region also populate the list, making Latin America tied for first place for the most entries on the top 25 list.

The Asia-Pacific region also placed six members on the closed-end top 25.

Eastern European funds captured positions four through six, just below the Latin American top performers. Aside from the Latin gains, those focusing on the former Soviet-dominated region were the only funds to produce total returns of more than 40% annually.

With portfolios focused primarily on Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe, two diversified emerging-markets funds added to the popularity of those regions as the best closed-end investment destinations.

Domestic investing paled in comparison, as only four U.S. closed-end funds made the list. All but one of those were real estate funds, and they occupied places 18 through 21 on the top-25 roster.

Rounding out the geographic distribution in the table below are a German and an Irish fund. They captured the last two spots among the top 10 performers.

Three-Year Closed-End Fund Leaders
Name, Ticker and Ratings Grade 3-Yr. Annual Market Return (%) 3-Yr. Annual NAV Return (%) Market Return Advantage (%) 3-Yr. Avg. Premium/Discount (%) Current Premium/Discount (%)
Latin American Discovery Fund (LDF) B 59.05 54.52 4.53 -10.61 -7.34
Latin America Equity Fund (LAQ) B+ 58.41 53.94 4.47 -11.93 -9.84
Mexico Equity & Income Fund (MXE) C+ 57.35 51.09 6.26 -9.89 16.40
Templeton Russia & East European Fund (TRF) C+ 47.43 45.85 1.58 10.61 2.91
Central Europe & Russia Fund (CEE) B 43.82 40.44 3.38 -8.62 -13.02
Morgan Stanley Eastern Europe (RNE) C 41.14 40.16 0.98 0.17 -8.87
Aberdeen Australia Equity Fund (IAF) A 39.67 28.78 10.89 1.73 6.50
Morgan Stanley Emerging Markets (MSF) B- 39.05 35.84 3.21 -9.91 -9.16
New Germany Fund (GF) B+ 38.83 32.57 6.26 -12.22 -8.56
The New Ireland Fund (IRL) B+ 38.37 30.96 7.41 -9.61 -0.33
Emerging Market Telecom Fund (ETF) B+ 38.09 33.22 4.87 -11.93 -2.17
Indonesia Fund (IF) C 37.67 33.15 4.52 5.30 5.04
Canadian General Investments Ltd C+ 37.36 33.76 3.60 -15.94 -17.43
Greater China Fund (GCH) C+ 37.34 38.97 -1.63 -6.56 -12.65
Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund (CUBA) B- 36.72 25.28 11.44 1.44 22.20
Mexico Fund (MXF) A 35.98 41.27 -5.29 -12.03 -13.60
Chile Fund (CH) B- 35.19 34.08 1.11 -2.07 -6.80
ING Clarion Glob Real Est Inc Fd (IGR) B 34.84 37.31 -2.47 -7.14 -5.51
Boulder Growth & Income Fund (BIF) B+ 34.48 13.99 20.49 -4.73 44.70
Cohen & Steers Premium Income Realty (RPF) B+ 33.42 31.61 1.81 -8.92 -4.61
DWS RREEF Real Estate Fund (SRQ) B 33.34 32.99 0.35 -13.79 -8.89
Singapore Fund (SGF) A 33.09 29.78 3.31 -11.43 -11.60
Third Canadian General Invst Tr C+ 32.99 32.48 0.51 -15.81 -10.25
Morgan Stanley India Inv Fund (IIF) C+ 32.56 36.94 -4.38 4.69 -11.26
Korea Fund (KF) C+ 32.43 28.06 4.37 -6.74 -5.43
Includes Data as of 4/30/2007.
Source: Ratings

Adjacent to the total annualized three-year market performance is the performance of each fund's net asset value (NAV) per share -- the value of its underlying investments -- for the period. As might be logically expected, above-average performance for a closed-end fund is achieved when investor optimism results in its market price being bid up at a rate higher than the value of its assets.

But with four of the winners, as indicated with negative values in the "Market Return Advantage" column, this wasn't the case. The numbers in that column show the difference, in percentage points, between the total-return market performances and NAV returns of the funds.

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