(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:
Whole Foods Market ( WFM), the fund's second-largest holding at 2.8%, is the biggest U.S. retailer of natural and organic foods. It operates about 300 stores in three countries. Comparable-store sales growth was 7.1% in the most recent fiscal year, and operating margins improved by 1.4 percentage points. Its shares are up 43% this year. Alexion Pharmaceuticals ( ALXN), at 2.5% of the fund, has been a big winner, gaining 68% this year. It is a developer of drugs for life-threatening medical conditions and for now, its sole product is Soliris, used to treat a rare blood disorder. Carmax ( KMX), sells, finances and services used and new cars through a chain of over 100 retail stores. The fund is the company's seventh-largest investor. Its shares are down 5.7% this year, but over three years it has an average annual return of 42% and over 10 years, its return is a sterling 12.4% annually.