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3 Great Wide Moat Funds

These highly rated funds hold more than three fourths of their portfolio in high-quality names.

At Morningstar, we're fans of companies that have wide economic moats. Such high-quality firms have competitive advantages that allow them to effectively fight off competitors. Several funds pursue strategies targeting high-quality stocks. Here are three funds that are open to new investors that earn high ratings and hold substantial positions in wide-moat names.

BNY Mellon Appreciation’s (DGIGX) steady team and process result in a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Silver. The management team looks for dominant companies in structurally advantaged industries, especially those with low debt levels and high returns on capital. The portfolio is filled with high-quality names: The portfolio has a higher average return on equity, return on assets, and return on invested capital relative to its S&P 500 benchmark. The most recent portfolio had a 78% weighting in wide-moat stocks. The strategy generally performs better than the benchmark in market drawdowns, with the fund typically gaining less than its benchmark in market rallies.

Polen Growth (POLRX) earns a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Silver for its disciplined approach and its solid investment team. The team are sticklers for financially superior companies whose characteristics include fortresslike balance sheets and high profitability, buttressed by abundant free cash flow and strong organic revenue growth. The team's forte is figuring out which historically prosperous firms have the business models, market positions, and executive leadership that can fuel steady earnings and a cash flow growth over a multiyear horizon. The most recent portfolio had a 78% weighting in wide-moat stocks. The team's highly selective approach results in a portfolio of just 20-25 companies with ample growth potential and less volatility than one might expect from such concentration.

And lastly, there’s Vanguard Dividend Growth (VDIGX), which earns a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Gold. Manager Donald Kilbride builds a compact portfolio of 40-50 stocks, dominated by big companies whose competitive advantages help them maintain and grow their dividends. He looks for companies that have proved willing and able to increase their dividends over time but that are trading at reasonable prices. Ideally, he wants firms that can grow their dividends at the rate of inflation plus 3%. The fund's holdings tend to be large blue-chip stocks that have big competitive advantages. The most recent portfolio had a 76% weighting in wide-moat stocks. Downside protection has been a strength for this fund.

Director Katie Reichart and strategists Robby Greengold and Alec Lucas provided the research behind this segment.