(Adds today's S&P 500 increase.)

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- So, let's get this straight: The stock market slid in September, rebounded in October and now it's ... tanking again?

The S&P 500 Index rose as much as 2% today after falling 2.8% yesterday, extending a two-day decline to 5.2%. Is it any wonder individual investors are checking out?

Instead, they ought to go with a time-tested mutual fund, one that's highly rated by industry analysts, charges a minimal amount in fees, posts consistent returns and employs a manager with a skill for stock-picking. In other words, funds that can survive the European debt crisis, a slowdown in emerging markets, a deteriorating U.S. economy. Maybe even Armageddon.

S&P Capital IQ cites three mutual funds, each with a different market focus, that gets the job done. In a way, it's the return of buy-and-hold, except it's with mutual funds, not stocks.

Here are S&P's picks and a sampling of their top holdings:

The $6.8 billion Wells Fargo Advantage Growth Fund ( SGROX) is up 11.4% from January through the end of October. The S&P 500, in contrast, is little changed this year.

The Wells Fargo Advantage Growth Fund has a five-year average annual return of 10%, including 24% a year over the past three years. It's in the top 1% of its fund peers in terms of performance over the past year, five-year and 10-year periods, and its annual portfolio turnover rate of about 54% is well below average.

Advantage Growth has an all-cap mandate, but its portfolio primarily consists of a mixture of large-cap information-technology, consumer-discretionary, health-care and energy stocks.

The ubiquitous maker of iPad and iPhones, Apple ( AAPL), is the fund's largest holding, at 6.6% of the portfolio. Three other picks follow, with the fund's performance listed below:

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