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%.
BlackRock Healthcare ( MAHCX), a $336 million fund, is up 15.5% this year and 7.8% in the past three months. WebMD Health ( WBMD) is the largest holding at 6% of the fund. It is down 10% this year. The company runs specialized Web sites that provide health information to consumers and health-care professionals, and it develops and runs private Web sites for health-care providers. Warner Chilcott ( WCRX), the second-largest fund holding at 6%, is up 5.7% this year. The company develops specialty pharmaceuticals, including for gastroenterology, dermatology and urology products. Its 2009 acquisition of Procter & Gamble's ( PG) pharmaceutical unit boosted its drug-making potential. The top performer in the top 25 holdings is health-insurance giant Aetna ( AET), up 45.6% this year.
Alpine Realty Income & Growth ( AIGYX) is up 13.2% this year, including a 6.3% gain over the past three months. It invests primarily in real estate investment trusts (REITs). Its largest holding, Simon Property Group ( SPG), at 6.5% of the fund, has jumped 16.4% this year. The company is the largest retail REIT in the U.S., and its portfolio includes shopping malls, premium outlet centers and international properties. Its holdings recently included 393 properties, about half of which were wholly owned. Boston Properties ( BXP), which makes up 5.6% of the fund, has risen 24.6% this year. It owns over 100 office buildings in major cities as well as at least 20 office and technical properties, a hotel, as well as residential and retail properties. Vornado Realty Trust ( VNO), at 5% of the fund, is up 13.6% this year. It owns mostly office properties in New York and Washington D.C., and shopping malls and retail properties nationwide.
The $74 million Virtus Small-Cap Sustainable Growth Fund ( PSGAX) is a surprise on the top-performer list, given that small-cap stocks are out of favor after a strong run-up over the past two years. But the fund has a 15.5% return this year, including 9% over the past three months. Its top holding is Hittite Microwave ( HITT), at 6.4% of the portfolio. Its shares are down 4% this year. The company makes integrated circuits, modules and components for radio-frequency and microwave applications. FLIR Systems ( FLIR) is 5% of the fund and has a 10.7% return this year. It makes thermal-imaging and infrared-camera equipment for military, law enforcement and commercial applications. LoopNet ( LOOP), at 5.3% of the fund, is up 66% this year. It operates an online marketplace called LoopNet.com, which is used to match commercial real estate sellers with buyers and landlords with tenants. The company is expected to merge with rival CoStar ( CSGP) late this year, via CoStar's $900 million acquisition of LoopNet.
The $991 million Delaware Smid Cap Growth Fund ( DFCIX) has advanced 14.2% this year, including 3.9% over the past three months. Weight Watchers International ( WTW), at 6.5% of the fund, is its largest holding. Its shares are up 95% this year. The company offers a variety of weight-management products and services that encourage healthy weight loss through exercise, nutrition and portion control. Polycom ( PLCM), the second-largest holding of the fund at 5.3%, is up 51% this year. It makes voice- and video-communications equipment. Shares of Terradata ( TDC), which make up 2.4% of fund assets, are up 40% this year. The company is focused on developing and commercializing data warehousing solutions for large corporations and government agencies.