A defensive holding is Mead Johnson Nutrition ( MJN), maker of Enfamil baby formula. The company has been expanding in China, Latin America and other emerging markets.

"Consumers in emerging markets are willing to pay a big premium for high-quality Western brands," says Blum.

A stock that can climb when the economy grows is Schlumberger ( SLB), the oilfield services giant. Blum says that as companies seek to obtain oil in hard-to-reach locations, the demand is growing for equipment and services. Schlumberger ranks as a superior competitor because it offers the technological advantages that major oil companies seek.

New America Growth

Another steady fund is T. Rowe Price New America Growth, which has returned 5.9% annually during the past five years, outdoing 93% of competitors. Portfolio manager Joseph Milano seeks high-quality companies that are gaining market share. His portfolio includes a mix of fast growers and steady performers with slower growth rates. During 2008, the fund outdid 67% of competitors, and it topped 92% in 2009.

A holding is United Parcel Service ( UPS). Milano says that UPS has a strong balance sheet and can increase earnings at a double-digit rate. The company is gaining a more dominant position as corporations develop increasingly complicated global supply chains. The shares sell at bargain levels, he argues.

"The stock has been weak because people are nervous about the possibility of heading into a recession," Milano says. "But UPS would do fairly well in a recession, and it would participate nicely if the economy grows."

He also likes eBay ( EBAY), which operates PayPal, the dominant provider of online payment systems. PayPal is growing steadily. After a period of mixed results, the company's online retailing business is improving, says Milano.

Buffalo Growth

Buffalo Growth aims to buy premier U.S. companies that are expanding overseas. Such businesses have the potential to grow rapidly at a time when the U.S. economy is sluggish. On average, companies in the portfolio get about 50% of their revenues overseas, says portfolio manager Dave Carlsen.

A holding is Allergan ( AGN), the maker of Botox and other products used in cosmetic surgery. While other drug companies must struggle with cost-cutting pressures from governments and insurance companies, Allergan relies on private payments from patients who are eager to have cosmetic procedures, says Carlsen.

Another holding is Agilent Technologies ( A), which makes electronic instruments that are used for measuring. The company is expanding sales of equipment that is used to test food.

"Consumers have an increasing desire for food safety," says Carlsen.

>>To see these stocks in action, visit the 3 Large-Cap Funds Offer Solid Growth portfolio on Stockpickr.

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Stan Luxenberg is a freelance writer specializing in mutual funds and investing. He was executive editor of Individual Investor magazine.

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