The three most important factors for open-end stock funds in the second quarter were location, location, location.
For the 10 leaders, it was the real estate upon which their investments reside -- all in Asia. For the laggards, it was the property they own, via real estate investment trusts.
The dominance of Asian funds was so thorough that the top dozen open-end stock funds invest in that region. In fact, only two of the top 17 stock funds do not invest there.
Similarly, a list of the 21 saddest performers for the quarter would consist entirely of REIT funds.
Six of the 10 best performers invest specifically in China, and all but one of the remaining funds focus in East Asia -- the lone exception being an Indian fund.
Matthews India (MINDX) ranked ninth, with a return of 23.53% for the quarter and 18.25% for the first half.
AIM China (AACFX) topped the list, returning 27.52% for the quarter. That brought its gains for the first six months of the year to 34.85%.
Of the eight leaders with sufficient histories to earn grades from TheStreet.com Ratings, an impressive five received marks in the "A" range, with three in the "B" range -- all of which warranted "buy" recommendations.
Of the laggards, four of the 10 were rated with "hold" recommendations, with TheStreet.com grades in the "C" range. The remaining seven received "sell" recommendations, with three in the "D" range and three receiving grades in the "E" category.
Comparison of the laudable three-year returns of the real estate funds with their dismal three-month figures shows a once-popular group that has fallen out of favor faster than a guy who calls his lover by the wrong name. After residing in the top echelons of the performance array during much of the bull market, the group has migrated south en masse.
PIMCO RealEstate (PETAX) came in last, returning a negative 12.41% for the quarter. That erased its first-quarter gains, leaving its performance 8.28% in the red for the first six months of the year.
Richard Widows is a financial analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, Widows was senior product manager for quantitative analytics at Thomson Financial. After receiving an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University in California, his career included development of investment information systems at data firms, including the Lipper division of Reuters. His international experience includes assignments in the U.K. and East Asia.