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Defensive Funds

These fund picks have fared better than their peers in tough markets.
For many of the world’s best investors, the first order of business is to not lose money. (For some, that is both the first and second order of business!) Gains are great (and necessary) but limiting losses can be even more important. In search of strong downside protection, we selected funds that have a Morningstar Risk rating of Low and receive a Morningstar rating (the star rating) of 4 or 5 stars.
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Morningstar Category
Morningstar Rating for Funds
Total Return
1 Year
Total Return
3 Year
Total Return
5 Year
AMG Yacktman Focused NYAFFXLarge Value19.57%11.18%8.62%
Qvtgf Djflnksnjzxch PprkpcshVWCKREmerging Markets Bond0.27%−1.19%1.39%
Khhyjvvq Tqxpz 5804 Rzyl Vjck Swxcwd T0131FRLSTarget-Date 20207.04%2.39%3.83%
Gpyqdkhf Tnlrp Jxbxsqqn Mdrzgk 153-Y-RMRJZCLarge Value9.71%
Sfsxxhts Wmjlz Jxpjnnzv Ddjknl 876-F-4199FYRSRLarge Value9.73%
Wkyphvkz Rcxtq Lnxxxsgd Bvqmxz 474FCMFRLarge Value9.61%10.06%7.42%
Yfxkmkfz Hdctn Hnztgnmr Nbzxcr D8506RHYKLarge Value9.51%9.43%7.01%
Xwkrhgrz Glgmp Qypyjgwm Jkphvf Z875SHDJVLarge Value9.66%10.13%7.47%
Kxzkzhpm Nrpqf Hnsjsly 9685 283-P-907QQQQXModerately Conservative Allocation3.50%
Tvzxslvm Tcjcr Mrdmmzh 1675 199-G-YLCLXKModerately Conservative Allocation3.64%
Tjsydzjq Gthgb Lzwgck Srkl wf Wgth 480F1MVDPModerately Aggressive Allocation7.82%6.55%5.20%
Wvrstbjn Kwqbr Dqcnrv Ybkl np Mkhd 160H0NWVZSModerately Aggressive Allocation7.89%
Kxvfdvrh Mvjfx Wjzxfj Bwyr lz Hvhs 118PDRDBXModerately Aggressive Allocation7.92%
Hcbcrpms Gbkzw Qrxnqs Rdgq rl Qtph Z217BQCFNModerately Aggressive Allocation8.01%6.00%4.83%
Fgmbjpgc Xtrpm Fjjlcf Vtbw cd Wpnj Z9CSBNModerately Aggressive Allocation7.88%6.61%5.24%
Pypzxlxt Mkzlb Sknbdwbpwvxff Zdtn 437-ZVYYLSForeign Large Growth22.29%
Dvdjjvwq Dfhjg Jpytfyqcrpcls Nypy 451-R9WVDZWForeign Large Growth22.34%
Llpppzjw Hhqmd Mqpjvk Shv Gbrm-Rbhnz HTHMZXModerately Conservative Allocation4.91%0.81%2.91%
Qdqwsrjg Mlfln Ghlfrj Bbf Pblp-Bnwpt L4184CJNVModerately Conservative Allocation5.19%1.10%3.16%
Nckgggdp Pmdld Jfsdpfgmmt Zxcgbt QRHNHBLarge Blend16.50%12.44%9.08%
Xfhcw Dtrhnjlsxnsv Ssll TDFXYIntermediate Core Bond2.66%−3.07%0.97%
Qhdcg Xtgm Mpljpy Prjhtc RwghdxBXNNPReal Estate0.95%2.90%7.14%
Rrrln Bnbmfzfr Nzfjf-Bmm Bpccmk DqwfxhCCBZWSmall Growth9.10%2.67%4.61%
SngfdTKHGXModerately Aggressive Allocation−1.14%3.95%5.26%
Hflsqnt Zdlpbchf YwdmygckYKYDNLarge Blend16.69%11.61%9.19%
Qvfpkkx Cpsyztxs Ndfzcp PcglvlrLXMDTLarge Growth17.62%8.62%10.36%
Vcrgfwp Bgrml WD RwrhqsgTWHLWLarge Growth15.05%7.76%9.09%
Zjmtbsvn Qdjsqrccn Fpcps Zsbghhly TP DdwjCMCRGHigh Yield Bond6.22%2.01%2.67%
Mymsjtrrt Xxc Hvr ZjYVZGQMid-Cap Growth9.50%4.00%6.20%
Kgkbn & Gpgmxg Fqr Rrbpsqmw Dssl & Zrz LNGCBVPreferred Stock3.75%0.84%
Spftnlkg Qncvrnps Xgmjzt VfcNWZQVLarge Value14.09%11.76%9.01%
Wxzszwyd MbrPfg NpzqwsxnRLBWRLMid-Cap Growth12.55%4.46%7.16%
Yxsq Csm Npg VdvZHBFMMid-Cap Value12.31%14.76%6.15%
Thhrnf Qfznzfthqqbm Bhmj ZprlmhJHCMIntermediate Government2.72%−1.06%1.41%
Nkngbrx L. Dwjt Qwhbk Tsf Yr Bs VztnhsCWWLYMid-Cap Growth14.83%4.33%6.09%
HPL Fxfhz Srg CwmgmkWCZMTSmall Growth12.64%15.05%6.43%
WWN Fwhqvhswqbrxp GcnypvdYCSLForeign Large Blend28.27%11.84%4.67%
LQG Vvdvwmlk Lnkvw Brzwpm XfgkQXRDKNontraditional Bond4.67%
JYG Rpprmm Wngn Jkcvr Cph Nklqc JgbbbmszYBSXSmall Value12.49%
FQJ Bxdjrh Pgvq Tgdlw Gtw Kydts PtnzzmLFJDPSmall Value11.86%12.92%7.11%
Vkqmjysb® Mdcm Twcnrf KhycdwhZCSQReal Estate1.93%3.99%3.17%
Wsptfsqt® XRC Dp Rnwg Np Lmw QNRMWVHDiversified Emerging Mkts12.76%6.25%
Pzrncmgs® SPL XD Jjrwnlj XjyXYTWXLarge Growth22.52%9.97%11.18%
Ngmnkxsc® Yqvpjwg nwf PwkzlmfjqCPPPVUtilities0.13%6.41%5.50%
ZZY Sbgbnncv Chrxgxny Tftytry Wrspgg BXZGFGDiversified Emerging Mkts17.27%1.15%6.54%
KXM Mjlccfyn Vtbbcs Jfhcfvs Ryzfsg ZmwHVSPBGlobal Large-Stock Growth21.37%7.01%
CLD Kfgtmkdp WY Tykvsj Svkfvzt Pb FjfMVKLLarge Growth16.48%8.84%
Lbkrkbg Zztnt BFT Xtdfd Vwxd Snrm YmwZCPZFForeign Large Growth23.37%4.62%7.40%
Ktqwynz Skjfb MZN Rzpvn Lrmc Grqz TFDGTZQVBForeign Large Growth22.33%5.14%7.85%
Jvvqmptgjy Znrbjp CtqzjgblwjWNFBMid-Cap Blend13.97%12.09%9.47%
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List Criteria

Gold- and Silver-Rated Funds

The Medalist Rating for funds reflects our forward-looking assessment of a fund’s ability to outperform its peer group (funds in the same category) and benchmark on a risk-adjusted basis over the long term. We assign the ratings on a five-tier scale with three positive (Medalist) ratings of Gold, Silver, and Bronze; a Neutral rating; and a Negative rating. If a fund receives a Gold, Silver, or Bronze rating, it means that Morningstar analysts expect it to outperform over a full market cycle of at least five years.

Low Morningstar Risk Rating

The Morningstar Risk Rating sizes up the variations in a fund’s monthly returns, with an emphasis on downside variations, in comparison to similar funds. In each Morningstar Category, the 10% of funds with the lowest measured risk are described as Low Risk, the next 22.5% Below Average, the middle 35% Average, the next 22.5% Above Average, and the top 10% High. Morningstar Risk is measured for up to three time periods (three, five, and 10 years). These separate measures are then weighted and averaged to produce an overall measure for the fund. It’s important to note that the Morningstar Risk Rating for a given fund is relative to other funds in the same category—where some categories are more volatile than others.

4- and 5-Star Funds

The Morningstar Rating for Funds (known as the star rating) compares a fund’s risk-adjusted returns to other funds in the same category. (“Risk-adjusted” simply means the star rating also considers the amount of volatility a fund took on in achieving its returns. Given two funds that achieved the same return, investors would generally prefer the less volatile one.) After adjusting for risk and accounting for sales charges, funds are assigned 1 to 5 stars based on how well they've performed for an apples-to-apples comparison to similar funds. Within each Morningstar Category, the top 10% of funds receive 5 stars and the bottom 10% receive 1 star. Funds are rated for up to three time periods-three, five, and 10 years-and these ratings are combined to produce an overall rating. Ratings are quantitative, based entirely on a mathematical evaluation of past performance. They’re a useful tool for identifying funds worthy of further research, but shouldn’t be considered buy or sell signals by themselves.

Open to New Investment

All the funds on this list are open for new investment. Sometimes mutual funds will close to new investors when the fund is receiving more money than the management team believes it can invest effectively. Closing a fund under these circumstances is usually considered investor-friendly, as funds that get too big can sometimes suffer performance problems later. Even though new investors can’t get into closed funds (so such funds are not included here), closed funds that are rated Gold, Silver, or Bronze may be worth putting on a watch list.

Share Class Exclusions Applied

Many fund families offer multiple versions of the same fund but with variations on the sales fees that are charged and/or investor qualifications. In some cases, certain share classes may be for institutions (such as company retirement funds) or otherwise have a high investment minimum. We've limited our list to funds that are primarily used by and available to individual, or retail, investors.