(Adds fund redemptions in the past week.)
BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- What if investors knew which stocks the best mutual fund managers were buying?
Now that's possible. Morningstar, the fund-ratings firm, tracks a group of what it calls its top managers of mutual funds to see what they own.
Even the most successful mutual funds this year have fought to retain investors as U.S. stock funds suffered outflows of around $45 billion during the third quarter of this year, "on par with last year's third quarter, which was the worst period for outflows since the fourth quarter of 2008." Funds shed $3.8 billion in the week ended Nov. 29, fund tracker Trim Tabs said today.Managers' picks are somewhat pedestrian, but given the investing environment -- volatility has risen to a record -- that's where you want to be. Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report), a couple of soda and snack companies, and a big hug from the avuncular Warren Buffett isn't aggressive investing, but that's where we are. No wonder. The S&P 500 Index has struggled to post a return this year. It's up 2.7% in a roller-coaster performance that has mutual fund investors headed for the sidelines. But Morningstar says that "while we continue to see plenty of instances where managers are not moving outside of their comfort zones, sticking with names they already know when they have capital to put to work, we have seen enough of our 'Ultimate Stock-Pickers' moving into new names to have an impact on our list of top buys during the quarter." Some scared fund managers, perhaps eager for a great payday, could just play it safe and track their benchmark index, but Morningstar's culling of its favorite managers shows some intrepid choices. At this time, every stock pick carries extra weight, but those managers that go for it could outperform and attract new investors. Interestingly, though, there haven't been particularly significant changes in the top 10 stock holdings of Morningstar's "ultimate stock-pickers" over the past eight calendar quarters, the firm said, adding to their confidence in these picks. Here are 10 stock picks from Morningstar's number-crunching of its favored mutual fund managers: