Retirement Funds Snag Highest Ratings

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.

Eight mutual funds that recently garnered "buy" ratings are vying for the chance to manage the nest eggs of millions of investors in retirement or those who will be in the next decade.

The funds use flexible-portfolio or asset-allocation approaches by purchasing open-end mutual funds, exchange traded funds or stocks.

TheStreet.com Ratings, in all, initiated coverage of 67 open-end mutual funds that accrued a track record of three years of risk and performance data by the end of May 2009.

TheStreet.com Ratings

The JPMorgan Smart Retirement Income Fund A ( JSRAX) invests in other JPMorgan funds. With 15 equity funds, five fixed-income funds and one money-market fund, JPMorgan Smart Retirement Income Fund puts 56% of its assets in fixed income, 36% in equities and 8.2% in money-market investments.

Three other newly rated JPMorgan ( JPM) funds also ranking in the "buy" range are JPMorgan Smart Ret 2010 A ( JSWAX), JPMorgan Smart Ret 2015 A ( JSFAX) and JPMorgan Smart Ret 2020 A ( JTTAX). The longer the target date, the more equity holdings and volatility, and the lower the initial ratings.

The second-highest ranked fund in our new coverage is the State Farm LifePath Income A ( NILAX).

A major drawback to these brand-name funds is they charge front loads of between 4.5% and 5%. MFS Diversified Income Fund ( DIFAX) charges a front-load fee of 4.75% of assets and a back load of 1%. The fund's largest stock holdings are Exxon Mobil ( XOM), Simon Property Group ( SPG) and AT&T ( T).

Leuthold Asset Allocation Fund ( LAALX) is the only newly rated stock mutual fund in the "buy" range that doesn't charge a front or back load. Along with stock holdings of Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY) and AstraZeneca ( AZN), as well as debt holdings of Bank of America ( BAC) and Morgan Stanley ( MS), the fund invests in mutual funds from various families, including Fidelity, Northern Trust ( NTRS) and T. Rowe Price ( TROW).

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.

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