In addition, I sought funds with long-tenured managers and below-average expenses. Those are common characteristics of winning funds, according to research by S&P. Funds that pass the test include FPA Capital (FPPTX), MFS Growth (MFEGX), Sentinel Common Stock (SENCX), T. Rowe Price Equity Income (PRFDX), T. Rowe Price New America Growth (PRWAX) and Wells Fargo Advantage Growth (SGRAX).
Among the steadiest performers is Sentinel Common Stock. The fund has finished in the top half of the large blend category 10 years in a row. Portfolio managers Dan Manion and Hilary Roper limit risk by focusing on high-quality blue chips that sell at modest prices.
T. Rowe Price Equity Income has landed in the top half of the large value category in seven of the past eight years. The fund focuses on dividend-paying stocks that have slipped out of favor. Veteran portfolio manager Brian Rogers has a big stake in solid financials, including American Express (AXP) and Wells Fargo (WFC). Rogers is a long-term investor, turning over 15% of his portfolio annually. In contrast, the average large value fund turns over 80%.MFS Growth favors stocks with strong balance sheets and high returns on equity. The fund has finished in the top half of the large growth category in nine of the past 10 years. Portfolio manager Eric Fischman looks for companies that can increase earnings over long periods. The portfolio has a big stake in technology blue chips, including Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG), stocks with strong earnings growth and modest price-earnings multiples. T. Rowe Price New America Growth buys stocks of all sizes. The fund emphasizes fast-growing sectors such as technology and health care. Holdings include eBay (EBAY) and software producer Adobe Systems (ADBE). The fund has finished in the top half in eight of the past nine years. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.