10 Best-Performing Mutual Funds of 2011

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Mutual funds that buy shares of health-care and real-estate companies leapfrogged those that own gold and energy stocks to become the best performers so far this year.

Health-care funds are far and away the winners at the midway point this year, with an average return of 12.9% through June 22, including a 9.2% run-up over the past three months, according to fund tracker Morningstar. Real-estate-focused funds have risen 9% this year, utilities funds have climbed 6.8% and consumer-staples funds have increased 5.2%. The benchmark S&P 500 Index is up 3.3%.

Defensive stocks -- health care, consumer staples and utilities, among others -- tend to do well because those companies sell necessities that aren't affected as much by a weak economy. Funds with big bets on gold and energy dominated the rankings list earlier in the year with first-quarter gains of 10%, but as the economic recovery sputtered, investors shifted to defensive stocks.

Whereas growth companies such as Apple ( AAPL), Micron Technology ( MU) and NVIDIA ( NVDA) were technology darlings earlier in the year, for the past three months the stars have been real estate investment trust SL Green Realty ( SLG), up 26% this year; health-insurance company UnitedHealth ( UNH), up 44%; and biotechnology firm Biogen-Idec ( BIIB), up 48%.

Here are 10 top-performing mutual funds in a variety of sectors and their top stock picks:

Fidelity Select Medical Delivery ( FSHCX), with assets of $899 million, is up 17.6% this year, including a 6.9% gain over the past three months.

The fund's top holding is Medco Health Solutions ( MHS), at 10% of the portfolio, followed by Express Scripts ( ESRX), at 8.8%, and UnitedHealth Group ( UNH), at 7%.

The top two picks are both big pharmacy-benefits managers that have poor-performing stocks this year. Medco Health, the nation's largest in that segment, is down 10.5%, while Express Scripts is little changed.

But UnitedHealth, a health-insurance provider, has jumped 44.2% this year.

The best performer among the fund's top 25 stocks is Sunrise Senior Living ( SRZ), an operator of 350 senior-living communities. Its shares are up 58% this year.

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