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TheStreet Open House

Four Funds That Did the Nearly Impossible

Stocks in this article: XOMCVXSLBHALFESTROKSKMPNSTSETEGEXC

As the price of petroleum and the stock market collapsed in October, it would seem almost beyond belief that the only closed-end equity funds to gain were energy plays.

Intelligent investment strategies involving energy infrastructure, production and delivery, with a heavy focus on natural gas, helped propel each of the quartet of funds in the accompanying table to positive returns last month. They were the only closed-end equity vehicles with performance numbers prepended by plus signs.

Like virtually all "long-side" stock funds, each of the four is lower for the year to date, albeit by distinctly lesser magnitudes than the S&P 500.

The stated objective of the Evergreen Global Dividend Opportunity Fund (EOD) is to "normally invest 65% of its total assets in securities of issuers in the utilities, energy and telecommunications fields." As befits the "Global" in its name, EOD's largest investments are in France's Suez, which is primarily involved in electricity and natural gas, and United Utilities PLC of the U.K., which supplies water -- now commonly referred to as "the new oil" -- and natural gas. Its largest U.S. stocks include Exelon Corp. (EXC), an electric utilities company, and Questar Corp. (STR), which is in natural gas production and delivery.

The John Hancock Tax Advantage Dividend Income Fund (HTD), because of a creative dividend strategy, is technically classified as an equity income fund.

"Under normal conditions," states HTD, "the fund will invest at least 80% of its assets in dividend-paying common and preferred securities that the adviser believes at the time of acquisition are eligible to pay dividends which, for individual shareholders, qualify for U.S. federal income taxation at rates applicable to long-term capital gains, which currently are taxed at a maximum rate of 15%."

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