Compare, Compare, ComparePerformance is the only thing you'll really see when you rip open that account statement. It's valuable but easily misused. A fund that's up a lot over a short period of time isn't necessarily a good investment. And a fund that's down a lot may not be so bad. The point is: You cannot look at this information in a vacuum. A good fund in an out-of-favor sector can be better going forward than a bad fund in a hot area. First, you'll have to compare how your stock funds have done vs. broad-market benchmarks like the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq. Then you can move on to examine how those funds have done against their peers. Morningstar's Web site includes a simple performance ranking of all mutual fund categories for the past month, three months, year and so on.
The ( LLPFX) Longleaf Partners Fund might be trailing the average tech fund this year, but it's still up 10.8% -- ranking near the top of mid-cap value funds. It also has a stellar long-term record. There's no need to bail out of that value fund if it hasn't kept pace with other funds you own. In fact, that goes back to the very reason you should have your money spread across different types of funds: When one is weak or down, another should be up.