Skip to Content
Fund Spy

Will These Moat-Heavy Funds Bounce Back in 2011?

Quality large-cap funds have lagged lately but could be poised for a rebound.

Mentioned: , , , , , , , , ,

Large-cap stock funds didn't get much love from investors in 2010. While the average fund in the three domestic large-cap categories posted double-digit gains for the year, these funds saw big outflows as investors continued a trend that began in 2009, pulling money out of domestic stock funds and putting it into hot areas like emerging markets and commodities. The large-growth category had $45 billion in outflows in 2010, by far the most of any Morningstar category, and large-blend and large-value were next with $17 billion and $4.5 billion, respectively, in outflows.

Yet there's reason to think that those who stuck with domestic large-cap funds will be rewarded. As Russel Kinnel recently noted in his annual "Buy the Unloved" study, the fund categories that get the most outflows in any given year tend to outperform the categories with the biggest inflows over the next several years. This is essentially a contrarian strategy, avoiding what's hot and going where others are stampeding for the exits. Domestic-stock funds are relatively unpopular now due to a general perception that most economic growth in the coming years will come from overseas, especially emerging markets such as China and India.

To be even more contrarian, we can look at large-cap funds that focus on "high-quality" stocks, meaning those that are stable and profitable with strong competitive advantages. Such stocks had a hard time keeping up in the rally of the past two years, which was largely driven by risky assets. A good proxy for quality, in this sense, is the economic moat ratings that Morningstar stock analysts assign to all the stocks they cover. A wide-moat stock has strong competitive advantages; a narrow moat means weaker competitive advantages; and stocks with no moat lack such advantages. Calculating the asset-weighted average moat rating for all the stocks in a fund's portfolio gives a good idea of the quality and stability of that portfolio.

David Kathman does not own shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.

Transparency is how we protect the integrity of our work and keep empowering investors to achieve their goals and dreams. And we have unwavering standards for how we keep that integrity intact, from our research and data to our policies on content and your personal data.

We’d like to share more about how we work and what drives our day-to-day business.

We sell different types of products and services to both investment professionals and individual investors. These products and services are usually sold through license agreements or subscriptions. Our investment management business generates asset-based fees, which are calculated as a percentage of assets under management. We also sell both admissions and sponsorship packages for our investment conferences and advertising on our websites and newsletters.

How we use your information depends on the product and service that you use and your relationship with us. We may use it to:

  • Verify your identity, personalize the content you receive, or create and administer your account.
  • Provide specific products and services to you, such as portfolio management or data aggregation.
  • Develop and improve features of our offerings.
  • Gear advertisements and other marketing efforts towards your interests.

To learn more about how we handle and protect your data, visit our privacy center.

Maintaining independence and editorial freedom is essential to our mission of empowering investor success. We provide a platform for our authors to report on investments fairly, accurately, and from the investor’s point of view. We also respect individual opinions––they represent the unvarnished thinking of our people and exacting analysis of our research processes. Our authors can publish views that we may or may not agree with, but they show their work, distinguish facts from opinions, and make sure their analysis is clear and in no way misleading or deceptive.

To further protect the integrity of our editorial content, we keep a strict separation between our sales teams and authors to remove any pressure or influence on our analyses and research.

Read our editorial policy to learn more about our process.