TheStreet.com Ratings Initiates Coverage on 69 Funds

Closed-end funds and ETFs with sufficient track records are now getting coverage from the Ratings staff.
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TheStreet.com Ratings initiated coverage of four closed-end funds and 65 exchange-traded funds that accrued a sufficient track record of risk and performance data by the end of January.

With yesterday's report of 4.3% consumer price index inflation, it's no wonder that the three funds winning A+ ratings did so with traditional inflation hedge investments in gold and silver. The

PowerShares DB Gold Fund

(DGL) - Get Report

tracks gold futures.

PowerShares DB Silver Fund

(DBS) - Get Report

follows silver. And, the

PowerShares DB Precious Metals Fund

(DBP) - Get Report

includes both gold and silver futures.

Excluding food and energy, the consumer price index would only have been up 2.5%. The commodity theme played out positively for

PowerShares DB Energy Fund

(DBE) - Get Report

with crude oil in the $100 range, earning an A- rating. The

PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund

(DBA) - Get Report

did even better, scoring an A+ as food prices continue to rise.

Another major theme of the top-rated funds that began trading in January 2007 is fixed-income ETFs. Eight different iShares run the gamut of maturities for both government and corporate bonds. These iShares follow Lehman Brothers fixed income indexes, providing a safe haven during the recent flight to quality.

Small-capitalization stocks falling over the last year propelled

ProShares Short Russell 2000

(RWM) - Get Report

and

ProShares Short S&P Small Cap 600

(SBB) - Get Report

to initial A+ ratings. The leveraged, and therefore more volatile,

ProShares Ultra Short Russell 2000

(TWM) - Get Report

and

ProShares Ultra Short S&P Small Cap 600

(SDD) - Get Report

did nearly as well, starting with A ratings.

Small-cap stocks such as

Triad Guaranty

(TGIC)

,

Standard-Pacific

(SPF)

,

Fremont General

(FMT)

and

Finish Line

(FINL)

lost four-fifths of their value over the last year, aiding the performance of these funds.

The four closed-end funds all received "sell" ratings due to their negative performance for the year ending Jan. 31, 2008. The initial ratings are E+ for the

Alpine Total Dynamic Dividend Fund

(AOD) - Get Report

, E+ for the

Gabelli Global Deal Fund

(GDL) - Get Report

, E for the

Blackrock Pref and Equity Trust

(BTZ) - Get Report

, and E for the

Nasdaq Premium Income & Growth Fund

(QQQX) - Get Report

.

Research Methodology

TheStreet.com Ratings condenses the available fund performance and risk data into a single composite opinion of each fund's risk-adjusted performance. This allows the unbiased identification of those funds that have historically done well and those that have underperformed the market. While there is no guarantee of future performance, these Investment Ratings provide a solid framework for making informed, timely investment decisions.

The funds listed below have either reached their one-year anniversary.

Funds rated A or B are considered "Buy" rated based on a track record of higher than average risk-adjusted performance. Funds at the C level are rated as "Hold," while underperformers at the D and E levels our model ranks as "Sell."

To find out the detailed definitions of what each level of our rating levels mean,

click here.

Kevin Baker became the senior financial analyst for TSC Ratings upon the August 2006 acquisition of Weiss Ratings by TheStreet.com, 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.