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Mid-Cap Funds

Morningstar’s top funds picks for what some call the market’s “sweet spot.”
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Sometimes referred to as the market’s sweet spot, mid-cap stocks are positioned in a way that gives them the potential to achieve impressive risk-adjusted returns. Mid-cap (or medium-sized) companies are usually not as dependent on a single product as their smaller-cap peers can be, meaning that mid-caps’ revenue and cash flow are often more consistent and the stock price is less volatile. But mid-caps are also not yet hampered by their size, either. (Once a company reaches the mature large- or giant-cap stage, its growth potential typically slows down). For this list, we screened for Gold- and Silver-rated no-load mid-cap funds that are open to new investment. Total market indexes hold about 20% in mid-cap stocks. You may already have similar exposure in your own portfolio. If not, and you want mid-caps to be well-represented, the picks below are a great place to start.

List Criteria

Mid-Cap U.S. Funds

Rather than a fixed number of “large cap” or “mid-cap” stocks, Morningstar uses a flexible categorization system that isn’t adversely affected by overall movements in the market. Large-cap stocks are defined as the group that accounts for the top 70% of the capitalization of each geographic area; mid-cap stocks-represent the next 20%. Small-cap represent the balance.

Gold- or Silver-Rated Funds

The Analyst Rating for Funds is based on our fund analysts’ conviction in 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. 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.

No-Load Funds

This list includes only no-load funds. “No load” refers to a mutual fund that does not charge a fee (known as a load) for buying or selling its shares; the investor typically buys no-load funds directly from a fund company or through a fund supermarket. Load funds, on the other hand, are sold by an advisor or broker and charge a percentage fee at purchase or sale of the shares, which is meant to be compensation for the planner’s investment-selection advice. (Note: Not all advisors sell load funds. Many are compensated via a flat fee or a percentage of all assets under management.) Whether a fund charges a load or not isn’t a reflection of its underlying quality. Many load funds are also Medalists, and some load funds are available without a load through 401(k) or other retirement plans. But we’re including only no-load funds here, since this list is designed to help investors who are primarily doing their own fund-picking.

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.

Distinct Portfolios Only

Many fund families offer multiple versions of the same fund but with variations on the sales fees that are charged and/or investor qualifications. Screening for “distinct portfolios only” removes all but one of these options to avoid having several share classes of the same offering cluttering the list. Morningstar normally designates the oldest share class as the distinct portfolio. In some cases, this share class may be for institutions (such as company retirement funds) or otherwise have a high investment minimum. In those cases, investors may want to consider an “investor” share class of the same fund, though the fund expenses may be higher for those share classes.

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