As the cyclists in the Tour de France escape the Alps and head up into the Pyrenees, it is time to review how the 433 fund families we track stack up in our "ultra" fund family competition.

In our version of the King of the Mountains, the challenge is to place as many funds as possible on our top-200 list of open-end funds, which is published in the Summer 2007 edition of Ratings Guide to Stock Mutual Funds.

For the second quarter in a row, Franklin Templeton, a unit of

Franklin Resources

(BEN) - Get Report

, wins the mountain classification, polka dot jersey, with 14 funds on the top 200 list. MFS, a unit of

Sun Life Financial

(SLF) - Get Report

, also placed 14 funds on the list, but it loses the tie-breaker, because this count treats each share class as a unique fund. If we ignore multiple share classes, MFS has only three spots on the list. This compares with six unique funds for Franklin Templeton, more than any other fund family.

AIM Investments, a unit of

Amvescap PLC

(IVZ) - Get Report

, and


(BLK) - Get Report

both pushed 11 of their riders to the summit, when counting multiple share classes. However, AIM edged out BlackRock by five to three unique funds. And ING Investments, a unit of

ING Group N.V.

(ING) - Get Report

, and Fidelity both placed 10 share classes of four unique funds in the top 200.

After consolidating the multiple share classes,

Nationwide Funds


Dimensional Investment Group


GMO Funds

emerged as "ultra" fund families, each placing five unique funds in the top 200.

The second way to be considered an "ultra" fund family is to finish the quarter ranked highly in the overall standings of the team competition. In the tour, all the members of a team must do their part to propel their team leader toward the finish line.

For a fund family to bring home the winner's yellow jersey, it must have the highest percentage of funds ranked in the top 30% of all open-end funds in comparison to other fund families of similar size. The top 30% represents overall investment grades of A+ to B-. The middle 40% are fund grades of C+, C and C-, with D+ and lower in the bottom 30%.

With Lance Armstrong-like consistency,

American Funds

wins the yellow jersey for the fourth consecutive quarter in the category of families with over 100 rated funds. Just over 65% of its 211 rated funds rank in the top 30%, with just 5.7% in the bottom 30%. Franklin Templeton held onto second position with 49.5% of its 188 rated funds in the top 30%.

Ranked third and fourth in the first quarter, the performance of



T. Rowe Price

(TROW) - Get Report

hit a rough patch of cobblestones in the second quarter, allowing the steady tempo of AIM Investments to move that fund family into third place.

Ivy Funds

retained the leadership in the peloton of fund families with 40 to 99 rated funds. GMO Funds and

Gamco Investors'

(GBL) - Get Report

Gabelli Funds reversed their second and third place finish from the first quarter.

Thornburg Funds


Lazard Funds

and Dimensional Investment Group again finished first, second and third out of 72 fund families with 10 to 39 rated funds. Of the 296 fund families with fewer than 10 rated open-end stock funds, honorable mention was earned by

Westport Funds

for having all four of its rated funds in the top 30% and

BBH Mutual Funds


Harding Loevner Funds


Industry Leaders Funds


Longleaf Partners

for having all three of their rated funds in the top 30%.

Kevin Baker became the senior financial analyst for TSC Ratings upon the August 2006 acquisition of Weiss Ratings by, covering mutual funds. He joined the Weiss Group in 1997 as a banking and brokerage analyst. In 1999, he created the Weiss Group's first ratings to gauge the level of risk in U.S. equities. Baker received a B.S. degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an M.B.A. with a finance specialization from Nova Southeastern University.