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These Big Funds Had Happy Shareholders in 2011

Not many stock funds notched respectable returns in 2011, but these funds managed to do so.

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Stocks staged an impressive recovery in 2011's final quarter, but the year was still a disappointing one for many holders of equity mutual funds. On the domestic-equity side, most funds struggled to keep up with the venerable S&P 500 index, as the blue-chip dividend payers that dominate the index thumped most other types of stocks in a nervous market environment. International-stock funds had their own set of problems, ranging from the eurozone crisis to concerns about slowing growth in emerging markets, as Morningstar's Gregg Wolper chronicled in this article.

Yet the equity mutual fund universe wasn't without at least a few success stories in 2011: Some funds managed to beat the index and deliver robust returns. As a counterpoint to last week's article, in which I highlighted some widely held funds that were notably disappointing in 2011, I used our  Premium Fund Screener to home in on large offerings that fared just fine last year. As with last week's screener, I started by searching for those domestic- and international-equity funds with asset bases of more than $5 billion, to ensure that our screen's output wouldn't be dominated by fly-by-night funds that are heavily concentrated in a specific pocket of the market. To ensure that at least some funds would make it through our screen, I set a relatively modest performance hurdle: a return of 5% or better in 2011.

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