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By Jason Stipp | 02-24-2014 01:00 PM

6 Top Picks for Your IRA

Get a mix of IRA ideas--including sturdy core holdings, interesting opportunistic names, and steady income-payers--from Morningstar's Christine Benz, Josh Peters, and Ben Johnson.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar.

Investors have until April 15 to fully fund an IRA for the 2013 tax year, which may be easier said than done for some investors.

Luckily, three Morningstar strategists--Christine Benz, Josh Peters, and Ben Johnson--are here to offer their top ideas for your IRA.

Christine Benz: One core fund I really like for an IRA is Vanguard Balanced Index. It's the ultimate utilitarian boring fund. Those types of funds can be really effective building blocks in investor portfolios for a couple of key reasons.

One is that there are moving parts going on behind the scenes, but investors don't tend to see the highs and lows in the portfolio. So, they tend not to react by mistiming their purchases and sales.

The other thing I like about any sort of balanced product that regularly gets back to a fixed asset allocation is that at those times the fund is rebalancing, the investor may not feel like doing that rebalancing themselves. Think back to 2008, for example. If you had this or some other type of balanced fund in your portfolio, the fund was quietly buying stocks for you at a time when you probably didn't feel like buying stocks yourself. And over time, that sort of contrarian effect that you can get through regular rebalancing can be very, very beneficial.

One of the reasons I like this particular fund is that its costs are very low, and it's really minimalist. It invests about 60% of the portfolio in a total stock market index, and the other 40% is in a total bond market tracker.

It doesn't include international exposure. If you want that in your portfolio, you will have to add it separately, but otherwise I think it's a nice, sturdy, core, all-in-one fund that you can safely add to over a period of years.

A more opportunistic IRA pick is Tweedy, Browne Global Value, but you could also hold as a core fund in an IRA as well. Its recent performance hasn't looked that great. It's had a couple of things dragging on performance. For one thing, the managers have had quite a bit of cash, because they haven't been able to find a lot to buy. They have also been building out a position in energy stocks, which have underperformed recently. And they also tend to hedge their [foreign currency] exposure, which has hurt it recently as well.

So near-term performance won't be too exciting, but I do like what this fund has to offer for the long term. For one thing, it has a really experienced management team. They are looking for companies that they think look inexpensive currently, and they are looking for quality franchises. So in a lot of ways, it's a Warren Buffett-type strategy in play here.

I like that their focus is on foreign stocks, which are arguably more attractively valued than U.S. companies right now. For people who are concerned about putting money to work in the U.S. stock market because they think that U.S. stocks are potentially a little bit overvalued, a fund like this could make a lot of sense.

Josh Peters: One of my all-time favorite stocks is also one of my top IRA picks this year. It's a company called Realty Income; the ticker symbol is O.

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