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Funds

Top Active Funds

We think these top-rated actively managed funds will deliver for investors over the long term.

List of investments
Name
Ticker
Category
Morningstar Analyst Rating
Allocation—50% to 70% Equity
Intermediate Government
Target-Date 2030
Large Value
Target-Date 2060+
Allocation—50% to 70% Equity
Target-Date 2035
Target-Date 2060+
Small Growth
Target-Date 2020
Target-Date 2025
Target-Date 2030
Target-Date 2040
Allocation—50% to 70% Equity
Target-Date 2035
Target-Date 2045
Inflation-Protected Bond
Target-Date 2040
Target-Date 2045
Target-Date 2050
Muni National Long
Intermediate Government
World Large Stock
Target-Date 2050
Large Growth
Target-Date 2055
Target-Date 2055
Target-Date 2020
Mid-Cap Growth
Target-Date 2030
Target-Date 2040
Mid-Cap Growth
Target-Date 2035
Target-Date 2045
Target-Date 2020
Target-Date 2040
Foreign Large Value
Target-Date 2030
Target-Date 2050
Target-Date 2060+
Allocation—50% to 70% Equity
Small Growth
Target-Date 2060+
World Large Stock
Mid-Cap Growth
Large Growth
Target-Date 2025
Target-Date 2060+
Mid-Cap Growth
Large Growth
Intermediate Core Bond
Target-Date 2055
Large Growth
Allocation—50% to 70% Equity
Large Value
Large Growth
Muni National Long
Short-Term Bond
Ultrashort Bond
Intermediate Core Bond
Allocation—50% to 70% Equity
Small Growth
Foreign Large Value
Foreign Large Blend
Small Growth
Large Value
Target-Date 2060+
Muni National Interm
Target-Date 2025
Target-Date 2045
Foreign Large Blend
Target-Date 2050
Target-Date 2045
Foreign Large Blend
Target-Date 2035
Target-Date 2040
Target-Date 2035
Target-Date 2050
Target-Date 2030
Target-Date 2025
Target-Date 2020
Muni National Long
Target-Date 2055
Inflation-Protected Bond
Target-Date 2060+
Target-Date 2055
Muni National Interm
Target-Date 2020
Muni National Long
Foreign Large Blend
Target-Date 2025
Inflation-Protected Bond
Foreign Large Blend

This long list includes funds from across asset classes and in many different categories, including domestic and foreign. Active aficionados can build a nicely diversified portfolio drawing from these picks, and also tuck in some specialty players in real estate and mid-cap stocks, which are also included here. Among fund shops, Fidelity’s bond fund operation is well-represented—particularly its muni funds. Also notable is Vanguard’s appearance on the list. The shop is often referred to as the “indexing giant,” but it also offers several Gold-rated actively managed funds.

List Criteria

Gold-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 (i.e., a Medalist rating), it means that Morningstar analysts expect it to outperform over a full market cycle of at least five years.

Active Funds

We excluded index funds from this list to target only actively managed mutual funds. Unlike passive funds, which aim to mirror the return of an index, active managers aim to beat a benchmark or achieve another goal (for instance, absolute returns) through investment selection, sector rotation, staying out of the market (by holding cash), or other strategies. Some active managers have broad mandates and can invest almost anywhere, while others are restricted to certain areas of the market. It’s important for investors to understand an active fund’s strategy, as many of the best active funds can be out of step with the market for certain periods.

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.