The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII for football supremacy and the Vince Lombardi trophy. At TheStreet.com Ratings, we have our "Ultra" Fund Family Bowl XI. In this 11th quarterly ratings competition among the 417 fund families, our top two contenders, Fidelity and Van Kampen, stake their claim for the Baker trophy.

The first of two "Ultra" Fund Family bowl spots goes to the investment-management firms placing the most "starting players" on our quarterly top-200 list of open-end funds. This list is being published in section III of our winter 2008-09 edition of " TheStreet.com Ratings Guide to Stock Mutual Funds."

Fidelity, with 19 funds among the top 200, is working on an "Ultra" Fund Family Bowl dynasty with its sixth consecutive visit to the big game. Division champs getting knocked out in the playoffs this quarter were ING Investments, a subsidiary of ING Group ( ING) and Vanguard, with eight funds, and American Century Investments and Transamerica Funds, a unit of AEGON NV ( AEG), with seven funds on the top 200.

Wild-card spots went to DWS Scudder, a division of Deutsche Bank ( DB), Ivy/Waddell & Reed Funds, a unit of Waddell & Reed Financial ( WDR), and ProFunds, each with 5 top-ranked funds.

The second route to the top of the "Ultra" Fund Family competition takes a more comprehensive view. Beyond just the starters, each fund family has to send all their second-string players and benchwarmers into the game, too.

To measure this, we break investment companies into groups by size to see which firms 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+ down to B-. The middle 40% are fund grades of C+, C and C-, with D+ and lower in the bottom 30%.

Winning the "Ultra" Fund Family Bowl berth for the second quarter in a row, among fund families with 100 or more rated funds, is Van Kampen, a division of Morgan Stanley ( MS), with half of its 148 funds ranking in the top 30% of all open-end stock mutual funds we rate.

Perennial playoff contender American Funds, with 44.7% in the top 30% of rated funds, is the runner-up. Putnam Funds, a unit of Great-West Lifeco ( GWLIF) at 41.4%, Alliance Bernstein, a subsidiary of AXA SA ( AXA) at 41.2%, and American Century Investments, at 40.9%, joined in the playoff hunt.

Fund Families With 100 or More Rated Funds
Fund Family Name
No. of Funds Rated
Top 30%
Middle 40%
Bottom 30%
Van Kampen
148
50.0%
22.3%
27.7%
American Funds
226
44.7%
48.2%
7.1%
Putnam Funds
502
41.4%
36.9%
21.7%
Alliance Bernstein
434
41.2%
22.4%
36.4%
American Century Investments
193
40.9%
45.1%
14.0%
Hartford Funds, The
288
38.5%
30.6%
30.9%
MFS
317
38.5%
38.5%
23.0%
Ivy/Waddell & Reed Funds
142
37.3%
43.0%
19.7%
T. Rowe Price
117
30.8%
55.6%
13.7%
MainStay Funds
126
29.4%
50.0%
20.6%
Franklin Templeton
196
29.1%
51.5%
19.4%
Fidelity Investments
653
28.5%
35.8%
35.7%
Delaware Investments
102
28.4%
36.3%
35.3%
John Hancock
167
28.1%
28.1%
43.7%
Rydex Funds
153
26.8%
21.6%
51.6%
Aberdeen Asset Management
112
25.9%
38.4%
35.7%
BlackRock
211
24.6%
52.6%
22.7%
Vanguard
138
24.6%
60.9%
14.5%
Pioneer Investments
108
24.1%
42.6%
33.3%
JPMorgan Funds
209
23.9%
56.9%
19.1%
Morgan Stanley
154
23.4%
36.4%
40.3%
Prudential/JennisonDryden/Strategic Partners
151
23.2%
63.6%
13.2%
Invesco AIM Investments
193
22.8%
44.0%
33.2%
Columbia Funds
513
21.2%
39.0%
39.8%
DWS Investments
179
21.2%
27.9%
50.8%
Wells Fargo Advantage Funds
201
20.9%
54.7%
24.4%
ING Investments, LLC
340
20.9%
57.6%
21.5%
RiverSource Investments
150
20.7%
46.7%
32.7%
Janus Fund
133
18.8%
40.6%
40.6%
Dreyfus/Mellon Funds
229
18.8%
52.0%
29.3%
Legg Mason
103
18.4%
39.8%
41.7%
Allianz Global Investors Fund Manag
158
16.5%
41.8%
41.8%
Principal Financial Group
400
16.3%
62.5%
21.3%
OppenheimerFunds
222
15.3%
43.2%
41.4%
MassMutual Funds
171
13.5%
53.8%
32.7%
Goldman Sachs
132
12.9%
59.1%
28.0%
SunAmerica
113
12.4%
36.3%
51.3%
Source: TheStreet.com Ratings

At the college-football level are the best-performing fund families in the 40 to 99 rated fund group. Out of the 34 families in this range attempting to win a national championship, Eaton Vance ( EV) triumphed with 55.1% of its 89 funds ranking in the top 30%, improving upon its third-place finish last quarter. Moving up two spots is Gabelli Funds, with 49.4% of its 87 funds in the top 30%. Lord Abbett rounds out the top 3 college-level fund families at 44.2% of its 95 funds in the top 30%, a three-notch improvement from the previous quarter.

The 10 Best Fund Families With 40 to 99 Rated Funds
Fund Family Name
No. of Funds Rated
Top 30%
Middle 40%
Bottom 30%
Eaton Vance
89
55.1%
28.1%
16.9%
Gabelli Funds
87
49.4%
24.1%
26.4%
Lord Abbett
95
44.2%
43.2%
12.6%
Pacific Life Funds
55
43.6%
34.5%
21.8%
State Farm
72
41.7%
33.3%
25.0%
GE Investment
53
37.7%
52.8%
9.4%
Schwab Funds
41
36.6%
48.8%
14.6%
Natixis Funds
41
36.6%
29.3%
34.1%
GMO Funds
47
36.2%
46.8%
17.0%
BB&T Funds
45
35.6%
46.7%
17.8%
Source: TheStreet.com Ratings

First Eagle wins the high-school level over 61 other fund families with 10 to 39 rated funds. To regain the throne lost in the prior quarter, First Eagle scored a perfect 100%. All 15 of First Eagle's funds ranked in the top 30% of the funds we rate. A top 30% performance of 72.7% moved Barclays Global ( BCS) up one spot to second place on the 10 to 39 rated fund list with no funds ranked in the bottom 30% for the second consecutive quarter.

The 10 Best Fund Families With 10 to 39 Rated Funds
Fund Family Name
No. of Funds Rated
Top 30%
Middle 40%
Bottom 30%
First Eagle
15
100.0%
0.0%
0.0%
BARCLAY'S GLOBAL
11
72.7%
27.3%
0.0%
Calamos
32
50.0%
25.0%
25.0%
Aston Funds
23
47.8%
34.8%
17.4%
RBB Funds
11
45.5%
27.3%
27.3%
Thornburg Funds
20
45.0%
30.0%
25.0%
Accessor Funds
36
44.4%
36.1%
19.4%
State Street Global Advisors
17
41.2%
29.4%
29.4%
Vantagepoint Funds
27
37.0%
59.3%
3.7%
Wilmington Trust (WT) Funds
19
36.8%
31.6%
31.6%
Source: TheStreet.com Ratings

As of Dec. 31, 284 fund families had less than 10 rated open-end stock funds. None of the fund families with four to nine rated funds managed to keep all of them in the top 30% of fund rankings. At the three-out-of-three top-rated fund level are AARP Investments, a unit of Zurich Financial Services AG ( ZFSVY), BBH Mutual Funds, Industry Leaders Funds, Jamestown Funds/LB&C, Jensen and Meridian families.

For an explanation of our ratings, 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.