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Announcing Morningstar's Fund Managers of the Year for 2012

These skippers shone amid a challenging market environment.

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Despite a steady stream of harrowing news--euro crisis, faltering economy, midyear market swoon, fiscal cliff--the markets had another strong year in 2012. Stocks continued to rally, as emerging-markets equities (as measured by the MSCI Emerging Markets Index) led the way with an 18% gain. International developed-markets equities and domestic stocks weren’t far behind, with the MSCI EAFE and S&P 500 indexes up 17% and 16%, respectively. Investors’ thirst for income and yield fueled strong returns for riskier bonds, with investment-grade corporate fare, high yield, and emerging-markets debt posting high-single-digit to nearly 20% gains and trumping government bonds.

No single bets propelled our Morningstar Fund Managers of the Year to the top of their categories, but if there is a unifying trait, it's that they're generally more willing to protect investors on the downside than to try to wring out that last penny of gains amid rising risks. Historically we've offered Fund Manager of the Year awards for managers investing in domestic stocks, international stocks, and fixed income. This year we introduce awards in two new categories--alternatives and allocation (for managers investing across multiple asset classes)--recognizing investors' growing interest in those areas.

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