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Fund Spy

These Fund Statistics Will Shock You!

Fun facts on fund launches, returns, manager ownership, and more.

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Now that I have your attention, here's another installment in our periodic lists of thought-provoking fund statistics. (Thanks to Morningstar's fund analysts, who provided many of the ideas here.)

153
The number of diversified domestic-equity funds with more than a fourth of their assets in overseas stocks. That's not a huge number relative to the domestic-equity universe, but the fact that the group includes widely held names like  American Funds Fundamental Investors (ANCFX),  American Funds New Economy (ANEFX),  Fidelity Low-Priced Stock (FLPSX), and  Hartford Capital Appreciation (ITHAX) provides a healthy reminder to check up on your portfolio's current international stake before adding an additional international fund at this juncture. (Morningstar's Instant X-Ray tool can help you see your portfolio's overall exposure to foreign stocks.)

3.77% and 3.62%
The yields on  Vanguard Intermediate-Term Tax-Exempt (VWITX) and  Vanguard Intermediate-Term U.S. Treasury (VFITX), respectively. Why buy the Treasury fund and pay taxes on the 3.62% when the 3.77% yield is tax-free? Once taxes are factored in, the yield on Intermediate-Term Tax-Exempt jumps to 5.24% for investors in the 28% bracket. (The Tax-Equivalent Yield function on Morningstar's Bond Calculator makes it easy to determine whether the muni or taxable fund is the better bet for you.)

4, 5, and 27
The total number of real estate exchange-traded funds in existence at the end of 2005, 2006, and 2007, respectively (and 2007 isn't over yet!). Many of these "me too" funds were launched at the worst possible time, as Russ Kinnel wrote in a recent Fund Spy. The typical real estate fund has dropped more than 12% so far in 2007.

4,800
The return gap, in basis points, between the best- and worst-performing long-short funds for the year to date through early December.  Caldwell & Orkin Market Opportunity (COAGX) has gained 32% so far this year, whereas Forward Long/Short Credit (FLSDX) has lost 16%. Long-short funds have also shown disparate performance patterns during periods of market weakness thus far this year, demonstrating that not all of these funds play a reliable defense.

$19.9 billion
The amount of cash  American Funds Growth Fund of America (AGTHX) had on hand as of the end of October, according to American's Web site. That's enough to gobble up all of  Ford Motor  (F),  General Motors (GM),  Sears (SHLD), or  Washington Mutual (WM)! But oh no, its asset size isn't a problem.

5.84
That's the percentage point year-to-date return difference between  Clipper Fund (CFIMX) and  Selected American Shares (SLADX), both of which are managed by the team of Chris Davis and Ken Feinberg. Clipper Fund, the more concentrated of the two, has lost 0.97% due to big positions in  American International Group (AIG) and  Harley-Davidson (HOG). Selected American is also having a year to forget, but it has gained 4.87% thanks to smaller positions in laggards and winning holdings such as  Altria Group (MO) and  Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B).

2
The number of Putnam funds (out of 42 that we cover) that earn full credit for manager ownership under  Morningstar's Stewardship Grade system. That means that the managers of just two of those 42 funds have at least $500,000 invested in the fund he or she oversees (the threshold is $100,000 for managers who run noncore funds, such as sector and regional funds).

9
The number of years since  Dodge & Cox Stock (DODGX) had a below-average calendar year. Yet, due to the fund's ho-hum year-to-date gains, Dodge & Cox reports that the fund has been seeing investor redemptions of late, and Morningstar senior analyst Dan Culloton notes that he receives daily e-mail messages asking whether Dodge has lost its touch.

0.02%
The extra yield you get paid for owning  Vanguard Total Bond Market Index (VBMFX) (4.73% yield) versus Vanguard Prime Money Market (4.71% yield). That shows you don't have much incentive to take on the added credit risk and interest-rate risk that comes with Total Bond Market Index at this point. (If interest rates fall, however, the bond fund's yield will hold up much more than that of the money market fund.)

11% and 13%
The first number is the percentage gain in the euro versus the U.S. dollar for the year to date. The second is the average Europe stock fund's return so far this year. True, many Europe funds have a lot of assets denominated in the pound and Swiss franc, which haven't soared as much versus the greenback. But the statistics above still demonstrate that a healthy share of Europe stock funds' gains have owed to currency appreciation rather than stocks' returns.

Negative 55%
That's the amount that  Regions Morgan Keegan Select High Income (MKHIX) has lost so far this year--a staggering loss for a bond fund. The fund lost a bundle on subprime mortgages and then redemptions forced it to sell other holdings under duress, and the net is a horrific loss. It shows that sometimes you really are better off panicking and yanking your money from a troubled fund, because redemptions can make a bad situation even worse.

 

Christine Benz has a position in the following securities mentioned above: SLADX. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.