Mid-cap growth funds aren't the only hot mid-cap fare.
All year we've marveled at the run-up among mid-cap growth funds, up 37.4% over the last 12 months, but there have been solid returns among mid-cap value funds, too. These value types typically invest in stocks with market caps between $1.5 billion and $9 billion that have modest prices relative to their peers or to the market. While their 15.7% average gain over the last 12 months pales next to mid-cap growth funds' fat gains, they're far ahead of the
. And since Jan. 1, their 11.9% gain beats mid-cap growth funds by more than 2 percentage points.
If you're sitting with a growth-heavy portfolio or are looking for a less-aggressive way to play mid-cap stocks, mid-cap value funds might be a good choice. To give you some ideas, we screened the category for funds that beat their average peer over the last one- and three-year periods, listing the top 10 below, ranked by their one-year returns.
In a year when big-caps have cooled off, it's not surprising that most of these leading funds tend to adhere to their mid-cap focus. This is important because it's hardly a foregone conclusion that a fund with a mid-cap label invests primarily in mid-cap stocks. The average holding in mid-cap value funds has a market cap of more than $8 billion -- just at the edge of large-cap territory.
Salomon Brothers Capital, for instance, had only 40% of its assets in mid-caps at the end of October, according to
. Co-managers Ross Margoiles and Robert Donahue have a solid record, beating more than 90% of their peers over the one- and three-year periods, but this is not necessarily a mid-cap fund.
Funds like the no-load
Dreyfus Midcap Value and the broker-sold
Lord Abbett Midcap Value might be more appropriate, because they have 79% and 62% of their assets in mid-caps, respectively, according to Morningstar.
Other intriguing funds that aren't on our list are the
Oakmark Select fund and the
Weitz Value fund.
On the Oakmark Select, fund manager Bill Nygren has a solid track record, beating 95% of his peers over the last three years -- the fund barely missed our list. He also has more than half the fund invested in mid-caps, according to Morningstar. One quirk is the fund's concentrated portfolio with just 20 holdings. If that puts you off, you might look at the
Oakmark fund, which he took over in March. That fund had sagged during former manager Robert Sanborn's watch, but should flourish in Nygren's steady hands.
As for the Weitz fund, manager Wally Weitz isn't afraid of making big bets -- and they have generally paid off. The fund beat 94% of its peers over the last three years, missing our cut only because of a sub-par 8.4% return over the last 12 months.
If you're wondering what stocks propelled the 10 leading funds, don't expect consensus. "Value" is often said to be in the eye of the beholder and this list of the leading funds cumulative top 10 holdings bears out that old saw. None is owned by more than four of the leading funds and stocks from the retail, financial, energy and technology sectors are in the fold.
Editorial Assistant Dan Bernstein contributed to this article.