Here are 10 mutual funds going on 10 straight years of positive returns.
With the holidays approaching, the managers of the funds --
Delaware Dividend Income,
Evergreen Asset Allocation ,
First Eagle Overseas Fund ,
Gabelli ABC Fund ,
ING T.Rowe Price Capital Appreciation ,
Manning & Napier Conservative Term Series ,
Permanent Portfolio Fund ,
T. Rowe Price Capital Appreciation Fund,
Vanguard Life Strategy Income Fund and
WM Flexible Portfolio -- won't be ready to celebrate until the close of trading on Dec. 29. That's assuming their total returns for calendar 2006 are still in the black on the last trading day of this year.
If they are, they will have bragging rights for having posted positive returns for each of the past 10 years. That's no small achievement, considering the last decade included the bloodbath that followed the tech-stock bubble of the late 1990s. (Needless to say, we will follow up on this shortly after the first of the year.)
These funds have generally employed a barbell strategy, using cash and other fixed-income investments to achieve a consistency of performance that couldn't be attained with stocks alone.
This blended allocation helps keep funds above water when stock prices retreat, but it also tends to dampen returns during bull markets, which has been the case over the past few years. And since TheStreet.com Ratings' process assigns a high value to recent performance, funds that keep large amounts of money in cash or bonds have also seen their ratings suffer.
It's worth noting one fund that didn't make the list,
Legg Mason Value Trust. The fund's manager, Bill Miller, has the distinction of outperforming the
for each of the past 15 years. But that doesn't mean he was always in the black. For a three-year period from 2000-02, the fund posted negative returns, albeit not as negative as those of its benchmark.
Still, Miller won't have to worry about sharing the limelight with the managers of any of these funds. As impressive as their consistent performance is, none have managed to beat the S&P 500 for the past decade. That's because, as noted above, their fixed income allocations have held them back during some of the index's strongest years. The best record any of these managers can boast is beating the S&P 500 for seven of the past 10 years.
It's unlikely that even the King of Consistency will beat his own record, as the Legg Mason Value Trust's string of victories appears likely to end. The fund was up only 1.54% in the first 10 months of the year, compared with a 12.06% return for the S&P 500.
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.