Even infrequent readers of Morningstar.com probably know that when it comes to stock investing, we're advocates of a wide-moat approach: We favor companies that have established competitive advantages, because they can more effectively fight off challengers than those companies that haven't carved out economic moats. And from a performance standpoint, wide-moat stocks tend to hold up better in market downturns: The Morningstar Wide Moat Focus Index lost less than 20% in 2008, versus a 37% tumble for the S&P 500.
For those investors who dig the moat concept but who don't invest in individual stocks, we created Morningstar's average moat rating. A fund's average moat rating marries our economic moat ratings for stocks to a mutual fund's portfolio. To receive an average moat rating, funds must have at least 50% of their assets in stocks that earn moat ratings from Morningstar. Those funds with a rating of 4 or higher can be considered wide-moat funds; from 3.5 to 4.0, moderately wide; 2.5 to 3.5, narrow moat; 1.5 to 2.5, minimal; and 0 to 1.5, no moat.
Susan Dziubinski does not own shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar's editorial policies.