Who would have thought that a mutual fund focusing on the car industry, littered with bankrupt companies, would be the top performer in the second quarter?
Investors threw in enough cash for clunker stocks to drive the Fidelity Select Automotive Portfolio (FSAVX) 81% higher in the three months ending June 30. Tenneco (TEN - Get Report) rocketed 550%, ArvinMeritor (ARM) surged 456% and Ford (F - Get Report) rose 131%. As the weaker players get shaken out of the industry, the survivors are positioned for a return to growth in the fourth quarter and next year.
The U.S. economy isn't out of the woods yet. An unemployment rate of 9.5%, the highest in 26 years, shows just how far off the beaten path we have wandered. With June's average hourly earnings flat from May and up just 2.7% in a year, the smallest annual rise since September 2005, the buying power of Americans remains constrained.
It's no wonder that eight of the 10 best-performing stock mutual funds look for investment opportunities outside the U.S.The second-best performing open-end stock mutual fund in the second quarter was the ProFunds UltraLatin America (UBPUX). The fund, which tracks the Latin America 35 ADR Index, jumped 77%. Key holdings include steel producer Gerdau (GGB - Get Report), up 91%; commercial bank BanColombia (CIB), up 58%; and cement maker Cemex SAB de CV (CX), up 55%. The Rydex S&P Smallcap 600 Pure Value ETF (RZV) is ranked as one of 10 best-performing exchange traded funds. Rydex Small Cap Value Fund (RYAZX), its similarly indexed open-end fund from the same fund family, also scored a top-10 finish, returning 69%.