BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Mutual-fund managers are earning their fees this year by beating the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 Index as much as five-fold.

The top performer among diversified mutual funds that primarily buy large U.S. companies is Morgan Stanley Focus Growth ( AMOBX), with a 25% return this year through Nov. 29. It also was the best in its large-growth fund category in 2009, with a 72% gain. The S&P 500 has risen 4.8% this year.

Fidelity Investments' mutual funds took up four spaces in the top 10, including the $35 billion Fidelity Growth Company Fund ( FDGRX), and eight funds in the top 25, including the flagship $71 billion Contrafund ( FCNTX).

Mutual-fund managers have been helped by lower volatility after the wild ride of the 2008 crash and the 2009 rebound. Russel Kinnel, director of mutual-fund analysis at Morningstar, said this year's results are more in line with historical averages, with the top funds showing low double-digit returns, besting the broader stock market's probable 8% to 10% return for all of this year.

The best-performing industries have been industrial materials and consumer discretionary, a shift from the prior two years when financial services and health care were the leaders. Those two are now out of favor, hampering some managers.

Looking to 2011, mutual funds that invest in "high-quality" U.S. growth stocks may be among the best bets for investors, while fixed-income funds probably should be avoided, Kinnel said. Investors have driven bonds to record-low yields, causing concern the bottom of the fixed-income market may fall out as investors pour into stocks because of a strengthening economy.

"I worry when I see so much (money) going into bond funds when yields are so low," he said. "People ignore the dividend yield or the earnings yield that you see in stocks."

This article's rankings are based on data provided by Morningstar and includes mutual funds of $1 billion or more that are the best performers in the large-capitalization growth, value or blend (growth and value) categories, with less than 30% of assets in small- or mid-cap stocks. Industry- and country-specific funds also were excluded.

In inverse order, here are the top-10 performing funds, their key holdings and their strategy:

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10. INVESCO VAN KAMPEN CAPTIAL GROWTH ( ACPAX)

Return: 15.6%

Assets: $3.7 billion

Managers: Eric Voss and Ido Cohen, both since June 2010 along with an advisory team

Top stocks: Apple ( AAPL), 7.4%, Visa ( V), 3.2%, and Baidu ( BIDU), 2.7%

Big winner: Rovi ( ROVI) provides interactive-programming guides and search services that are embedded in consumer-electronics products, and database access to entertainment content, comprising 2% of the fund. It's up 71% this year.

Strategy: Not for the faint of heart, this fund tumbled 49% in 2008, putting it at the bottom of its peer group in terms of returns, then rebounded with a blazing 66% return in 2009, putting it back near the top. It has a diverse portfolio of 63 stocks, with only 30% of its assets in the top 10 shares, indicative of bottom-up analysis. The top sector bet is computer hardware, at 14.9%, followed by consumer services, at 12%. The portfolio turnover is 63%. One-hundred percent means all holdings change once within a calendar year.

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9. NEUBERGER BERMAN SOCIALLY RESPONIBLE FUND ( NBSRX)

Return: 15.9%

Assets: $1.3 billion

Manager: Arthur Moretti, since 2001; Ingrid Dyott, (2003); Sajjad Ladiwala, (2003); and Mamundi Subhas, (2009)

Top stocks: Altera ( ALTR), 5.3%, Danaher ( DHR), 4.6%, and Texas Instruments ( TXN), 4.3%.

Big winner: Novo Nordisk A/S ( NOVO B), an American depositary receipt (ADR), is a Danish insulin and diabetes-care-products maker, accounting for 2.7% of fund. The stock is up 75%.

Strategy: Perhaps one of the most balanced portfolios in the group, in terms of stocks weightings and their returns, it holds 33 stocks and the top 10 make up 41% of the portfolio. Financial services is the biggest sector weighting, at 16%, followed by health care, at 13%. Portfolio turnover is a moderate 41%. Unlike many other funds, the returns are fairly evenly spread across the top 25 stocks, with none better than a 75% gain. And there are only four losers in the top 25 stocks.

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8. FIDELITY GROWTH COMPANY FUND ( FDGRX)

Return: 16%

Assets: $35 billion

Manager: Steven Wymer, since January 1997

Top stocks: Apple ( AAPL), 5.5%, Salesforce.com ( CRM), 4%, and Google ( GOOG), 3%

Big winner: Riverbed Technology ( RVBD) develops technologies that increase the performance of wide-area computer networks, and are also used in cloud computing. The company makes up 0.85% of the fund, and its shares have tripled this year.

Strategy: With 301 stocks, only 25% of the fund in its top 10 holdings and a portfolio turnover of 65%, Wymer is one busy guy. Computer hardware is the largest sector allocation, at 19.8%, followed by health care, at 16.6%. Indicative of the size and scope of the portfolio, its holdings range from Exxon Mobil ( XOM), with a $360 billion market cap, to a huge bet on up-and-comer Red Hat Technologies ( RHT), valued at $8.9 billion. The fund lost 40% in 2008 and about as much the following year.

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7. FIDELITY ADVISOR EQUITY GROWTH ( EQPGX)

Return: 17.2%

Assets: $3 billion

Manager: Jason Weiner, since November 2006

Top stocks: Apple ( AAPL), 6.6%, Cisco ( CSCO), 4.7%, and Qualcomm ( QCOM), 3.8%

Big winner: Verisign ( VRSN) provides Web-naming services, acting as the exclusive registrar for .com, .net, .name and few other Internet domains. It accounts for 0.9% of the portfolio, and has jumped 44% this year.

Strategy: With 177 stocks, a third of them in the top 10, and an annual turnover of 135%, Weiner is an active manager who quickly weeds out the slow performers. Computer hardware is the largest sector, at 19.2%. Next is industrial materials, at 13.5%. The portfolio includes everything from Starbucks ( SBUX), comprising 1% of the fund and up 43% this year, to Goodrich ( GR), one of the world's largest suppliers of components and services to the aeronautics industry, at 0.09% of the fund and up 36%.

The only two losers in the top 25 are Cisco ( CSCO), down 20%, and Google ( GOOG), down 7%.

6. FIDELITY INDEPENDENCE FUND ( FDFFX)

Return: 17.8%.

Assets: $4.1 billion

Manager: Robert Bertelson, since November 2006

Top stocks: Apple ( AAPL) , 5.1%, Delta Airlines ( DAL), 3.5%, Google ( GOOG), 3.4%

Big winner: Bayerishche Motoren Werke, the German automaker, comprises 1.2% of fund and has doubled this year.

Strategy: The diverse portfolio has 120 stocks, and the top 10 make up 27% of the portfolio. Industrial materials is the largest sector bet, at 20%, followed by computer hardware, at 16%. Portfolio turnover is high at 173%. Performance has been volatile as it lost 48% in 2008, then rebounded in 2009 with 40%. It has won big on its fourth-largest holding, at 2.8% of the fund, airline United Continental ( UAL), up 115% this year. After that, most stocks in the top 25 are less than 2% allocations, indicating lots of small bets.

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5. FIDELITY ADVISOR GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES ( FAGOX)

Return: 17.8%

Assets: $1.5 billion

Manager: Steven Wyner, since January 2009

Top stocks: Apple ( AAPL) , 5.8%, Google ( GOOG), 3.5%, and Salesforce.com ( CRM), 3%

Big winner: Coinstar ( CSTR) owns and operates coin-counting and entertainment machines as well as self-service DVD kiosks. The company makes up 1.3% of fund and has increased 131% this year.

Strategy: Another fund with a roller-coaster performance, it lost 55% in 2008, but regained 47% last year. It holds 183 stocks and turnover is a busy 114%. Computer hardware is the biggest sector wager, at 23% of the fund. Its top three holdings are what crop up in many big funds' largest holdings, but the balance of its top 25 stocks include old-school big-caps, such as IBM ( IBM), Boeing ( BA) and Microsoft ( MSFT).

Those are interspersed with little stocks such as Seattle Genetics ( SGEN), a drug developer with a $1.5 billion market value, up 56% this year, and Silicon Labs ( SLAB), a chip maker with a market cap of $2 billion. It is down 2.6% this year.

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4. NUVEEN TRADEWINDS VALUE OPPORTUNITIES ( NVOAX)

Return: 18%

Assets: $2.3 billion

Manager: David Iben, since 1995

Top stocks: Cash, 15%, Newmont Mining ( NEM), 4.2%, and Barrick Gold ( ABX), 4.1%

Big winner: Arch Coal ( ACI) is the second-largest coal producer in the U.S. It makes up 1.9% of fund and has gained 37% this year.

Strategy: The fund is the most consistent performer of the group, boasting a five-year annualized return of 12%, almost double that of the next best performer. Nuveen Tradewinds Value Opportunities holds 50 stocks, and the top 10 account for a third of the portfolio. Turnover is about average at 48%.

The fund seeks long-term capital appreciation with a value orientation. Its current success comes from riding the mining wave. Its top four stocks, all with returns in the 23% to 29% range, are gold miners, except for the fifth-largest stock, Cameco ( CCO) , which mines uranium. After that, the picks are diverse. There are few losers in the portfolio, and most of those are single-digit losses. Those stocks include an international mix of companies with varying market values.

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3. COLUMBIA SELECT LARGE-CAP GROWTH ( UMGLX).

Return: 21.7%

Assets: $3.4 billion

Managers: Thomas Galvin, since 2003; Richard Carter and Todd Herget, both since March 2009

Top stocks: Amazon ( AMZN) , 4.7%, EOG Resources ( EOG), 4.5%, and MasterCard ( MA), 4.4%

Big winner: Lululemon Athletica ( LULU) makes and sells yoga-workout wear. It comprises 4.4% of the fund and has soared 80% this year.

Strategy: The fund has an aggressive investment style and is focused, holding only 30 stocks, with the top 10 making up 43% of the portfolio. It has a buy-and-hold strategy as portfolio turnover is only 27%. That approach contributes to its volatility, as indicated by its 44% decline in 2008 and 46% rebound last year. The health-care sector is a hefty 22% of its holdings, followed by consumer services, at 18.7%.

The fund wanders from its large-cap category by mixing old-line large-caps, such as MasterCard ( MA), with a $33 billion market value, with fast-growing newcomers, such as Priceline ( PCLN), the online travel firm that's up 88% this year.

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2. TOUCHSTONE SANDS CAPITAL ( CISGX)

Return: 23.8%

Assets: $1.1 billion

Manager: Frank Sands Jr. , since June 2005

Top stocks: Amazon ( AMZN), at 7.7%, Salesforce.com ( CRM), 7%, and Qualcomm ( QCOM), 6.5%

Big winner: Illumina ( ILM N) is, a maker of genetic-testing tools that comprises 3.5% of fund. It's doubled this year.

Strategy: This fund is eclectic, with holdings spread across many sectors, but it's heavy in high-tech and biotech, and oil-field supply stocks. They include Genzyme ( GENZ), up 45% this year, Intuitive Surgical ( ISRG), a maker of robotics used to assist in minimally invasive surgery, down 12% on the year, and FMC Technologies ( FTI), a maker of oil-and-gas field-production sub-sea systems, up 51%.

With an average holding period of five years, the annual turnover rate is less than 25%. It looks for companies with sustainable above-average earnings growth and a leadership position in a promising industry.

1. MORGAN STANLEY FOCUS GROWTH ( AMOBX)

Return: 24.8%

Assets: $1.7 billion

Managers: Dennis Lynch, David Cohen, Sandeep Chainani, all since 2004; Alexander Norton (2005), Jason Yeung (2007) and Armistead Nash (2008)

Top stocks: Amazon ( AMZN), 9.5%, Apple ( AAPL), 9.4%, and Google ( GOOG), 7%

Big winner: BMF Bovespa SA runs the Sao Paulo (Brazil) stock exchange, the world's third-largest stock exchange, accounting for 5% of the fund. It's up 13% this year.

Strategy: The fund was also ranked No. 1 in the large-growth fund category, with a 72% return in 2009, but lost 53% in 2008. It lives up to the "focus" in its title, as it holds a total of 26 stocks. Its five biggest holdings make up 36% of the mutual fund.

It's a buy-and-hold fund, as annual turnover is very low, at 11%. Consumer-services stocks make up the largest sector in the portfolio, at 25%, followed by telecommunications, at 14%. Truly an international, eclectic portfolio, it has stock picks from China, Brazil and France. Its bets on two Las Vegas-based international hotel/casino/real-estate firms, has paid off big, as Las Vegas Sands ( LVS) is up 229% and Wynn Resorts ( WYNN) is up 78%. Both are top-10 holdings.

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