TSC Ratings provides exclusive stock, ETF and mutual fund ratings and commentary based on award-winning, proprietary tools. Its "safety first" approach to investing aims to reduce risk while seeking solid outperformance on a total return basis.

Only three of 26 newly rated equity funds received "buy" recommendations from TheStreet.com Ratings.

The funds, listed in the accompanying table, sport steady strategies and conservative investments.

TheStreet.com Ratings

The Federated Target ETF 2015 ( FTOAX) earned a B-plus grade from TheStreet.com Ratings by investing in a sensible mix of low-expense exchange traded funds, with its biggest holding the broadly diversified iShares S&P 500 Index ETF ( IVV). With an expense ratio of 0.75%, it doesn't burden holders with excessive management costs.

The ING Lifestyle Moderate Portfolio Fund ( ILMAX) is a B-plus rated fund of funds with about equal percentages of equity and fixed-income holdings.

Finally, the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation Index Fund ( VDAIX) earned its grade of B by tracking the Mergent Dividend Achievers Select Index. With a thin expense ratio of 0.4%, its largest holdings include mainstays such as Wal-Mart ( WMT), Procter & Gamble ( PG), Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ) and Exxon Mobil ( XOM).

The four members of the ProFunds group on the list -- three of which have the worst possible grade of E-minus -- provide a lesson in the perils of leveraged mutual funds.

ProFunds-Ultra Emerging Markets ( UUPIX) aims for a daily return of double the percentage change in the Bank of New York Emerging Markets 50 ADR Index. ProFunds Ultra Short Emerging Markets ( UVPIX) endeavors to produce a daily return of twice the amplitude of the opposite of the same gauge. So it might be expected that over time, one should be up and the other down. Yet both are down over the past 12 months and each has suffered sizeable losses over the past three years.

For the "mirror image" ProFunds Ultra International Fund ( UNPIX) and the ProFunds-Ultra Short International ( UXPIX), both have fallen this year and over the past three years, even though they track, respectively, double the long and short sides of the MSCI EAFE Index.

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