Biggest Equity-Fund Ratings Changes - TheStreet

Betting on a bear market has paid off, with significantly higher grades from Ratings for some equity mutual funds.

As the stock market continued to shrivel during the year's second quarter, four of the five funds on the "most improved" list of the accompanying table earned impressive grade elevations from Ratings by moving inversely to the general list.

The table lists the five equity mutual funds with the largest improvements and the quintet with the largest downgrades for the quarter ended June 30.

On the "most improved" section of the table, the

Leuthold Grizzly Fund

(GRZZX) - Get Report

, the

PIMCO StocksPLUS TR Short Strategy Fund

(PSSAX) - Get Report

, The

ProFunds-Bear Fund

(BRPIX) - Get Report

and the

Rydex Inverse S&P 500 Strategy Fund

(RYARX) - Get Report

-- each of which moves opposite the direction of the general stock market -- all ended the first half of the year with double-digit gains. For the latest 12-months, the four funds have achieved even bigger totals.

Their gains contrast sharply with double-digit negative returns for the S&P 500 total-return index for the year to date and past 12 months. And although their computer-generated grades issued by's objective evaluation system have spurted higher as a result of the bear market, investors should be cautioned that a reversal into a sustained bull market would result in painful losses for such "inverse" funds.

The fifth fund in the "most improved" grouping, the

GMO Alpha Only Fund III

(GGHEX) - Get Report

, earned its grade improvement in a more tortoise-like fashion, with slow and steady progress during the current period of high-amplitude markets bounces and tumbles.

An institutional fund that exhibits virtually no correlation with the general market, GGHEX has been consistently running up positive performance numbers slightly better than a typical money market fund. Its consistency of returns explains, for the most part, its advance from a "C" grade, which equates with a "hold" recommendation, to the highest possible mark of A+, which places it squarely in the "buy" recommended category.

Despite suffering year to date and 12-month losses less severe than the S&P 500, four of the five funds on the "most deteriorated" list suffered diminutions in their grades because of volatility of returns.

The one highly downgraded fund in the table with double-digit setbacks for the year to date and 12 months, the

Fidelity Select Defense & Aerospace Fund

(FSDAX) - Get Report

, moved southward with the aerospace industry.

Its largest holdings -- which have mostly eroded in value over the past year -- include

United Technologies



(BA) - Get Report


Honeywell International

(HON) - Get Report


Lockheed Martin

(LMT) - Get Report

LMT and

Northrop Grumman

(NOC) - Get Report


Even though it lost two full grade levels during the quarter, the

Columbia Select Large Cap Growth Fund

(ELGAX) - Get Report

, with a current grade of C+, remains in the "hold" range -- just a tick away from a "B-" grade that would elevate it to a "buy" recommendation.

ELGAX's largest portfolio positions, although volatile over the past year, have generally held onto their respective values. They include


(GOOG) - Get Report



(AAPL) - Get Report


Research In Motion



Gilead Sciences

(GILD) - Get Report



(QCOM) - Get Report


Richard Widows is a senior financial analyst for Ratings. Prior to joining, 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.