As we begin the new year, it is time to review how the 430 mutual fund families stack up in our quarterly "ultra" fund family competition.

One way an investment house can be considered an "ultra" fund family is to place more funds on our quarterly list of the top 200 open-end funds than its peers. Many funds have multiple shares classes. However, our top-200 list includes only a single primary share class to represent each fund.

The full list will be published in the Winter 2007-08 edition of our Ratings Guide to Stock Mutual Funds. The guide can be purchased from Grey House Publishing (518-789-8700) or viewed at no cost at the reference desk of your public library.

In a repeat performance, two of the biggest fund families held on to the top spots.


again leads the pack with 15 unique funds on our top-200 list.


held its second-place position with nine funds.

Two family groups moving up the rankings are ING Investments, a unit of

ING Groep

(ING) - Get Report

, with eight funds; and Franklin Templeton, a unit of

Franklin Resources

(BEN) - Get Report

, with seven.

American Century Investments and


(BLK) - Get Report

both had six, while Ivy Funds, JPMorgan Funds, a unit of

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

, and

T. Rowe Price

(TROW) - Get Report

each had five.

Another way to be considered an "ultra" fund family is to finish the quarter among those with the highest percentage of funds ranked in the top 30% of all open-end funds, when compared with other fund families of similar size. Funds ranked in the top 30% earn overall investment grades of A+ down to B-. The middle 40% of funds have grades of C+, C, and C-, while funds in the bottom 30% are rated D+ or lower. Ratings only rates funds with a track record of at least three years.

Ivy Funds placed first among fund families with between 40 and 99 rated funds, improving the percentage of its rated funds in the top 30% to 64.3%. The second- and third-place contenders in this size class reversed positions this quarter.

Waddell & Reed

(WDR) - Get Report

moved up to second place, with 58.2% of its rated funds in the 30%. Seligman Group slipped down to third with 48.0% in the top 30% of our rankings.

Winning the largest section of our ultra fund family competition for the sixth consecutive quarter, American Funds placed 57.3% of its 211 rated funds in the top 30%, with just 1.9% in the bottom 30%. Holding on to second place, Allianz Global Investors, a unit of

Allianz SE

( AZ), kept 52.0% of its 127 rated funds in the top 30%.

Third and fourth places also remained the same from last quarter. T. Rowe Price and MFS, a unit of

Sun Life Financial

(SLF) - Get Report

, held on to those spots with about half of their funds in the top 30% range.

Among the best fund families with 10 to 39 rated funds, Alger Funds took first prize, moving up from second place the previous quarter. It was able to keep 25 of its 31 rated funds in the top 30%. Kinetics Mutual Funds secured the second position with 80.0% of top 30% funds. This two-notch advance leapfrogged the repeat third-place showing of HSBC Asset Management, a unit of

HSBC Holdings



With all seven of its funds in the top 30%, a fund family by the name of Sit Mutual Funds topped the list of 295 fund groups with nine or fewer rated funds. Marsico Investment Fund, a unit of

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

, was pushed down to second place but kept all four of its rated funds in the top 30%.

Honorable mention goes to BBH Mutual Funds, Brandywine, a unit of

Legg Mason

(LM) - Get Report

, Cullen Funds, Industry Leaders Funds, and Julius Baer Funds, a unit of

Julius Baer Holding

( JBHGF), all of which shared third place. They each have 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.