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Half of the year is gone and fund performance figures are nothing to crow about---or are they.

With half of the year behind us, most mutual funds' performance figures are still underwater. But that's not entirely bad news; for the quarter, many figures have turned positive. Add them together and it's all part and parcel of what investing is all about--ups and downs.

No one ever said that investing in mutual funds came with any always-positive performance guarantees. At least I hope they haven't. If you've heard that from someone, let the SEC, or me, know. Investing -- be it in soy beans, Microsoft, Fidelity's Magellan Fund or S & P 500 funds -- has always meant taking on some level of risk. A quick glance at any long-term performance chart of the markets, individual stocks or individual mutual funds is the quickest way to visually see that reality. And, this year's fund numbers are no exception.

Look at Lipper's performance figures through June 28, and you'll see a couple of things happening. First, year-to-date figures show performance on nearly all types of funds still in negative territory. But, look at second quarter numbers only, those are the ones from March 31 through June 28, and it's a down right sunny snapshot with the bulk of fund types on positive ground.

Here's a quick run-down of how the average mutual fund in a variety of different categories have faired both year-to-date (through June 28), and for the second quarter of 2001:

  • U.S. Diversified Equity funds. This Lipper category is made up of 15 different types of funds including all varieties ( i.e., core, value and growth) of large-cap; multi-cap, mid-cap, and small-cap funds as well as S & P 500 Index funds, equity income funds and specialty funds. For the year, the average fund in this group was down 6.61 percent. But for the quarter, the average fund was up 7.59 percent. The biggest performance winners during the second quarter were small cap growth funds, up on average 13.95 percent; small-cap core funds, up 12.17 percent; and small-cap value funds, up 11.61 percent. Next in line were mid-cap funds.

  • Sector Equity Funds. Included in this grouping of eight, are health/biotechnology funds; natural resources funds; science & technology funds; telecommunications funds; utility funds; financial services funds; real estate funds; specialty/miscellaneous funds. Looking at the year-to-date figures, and the average fund here was down 12.65 percent. During the second quarter, however, things changed as the average fund was up 7.39 percent. Second quarter leaders in this pack were health/biotechnology funds, ahead 14.23 percent; science & technology funds, up 10.60 percent; and real estate funds, ahead 8.73 percent.

  • World Equity Funds. There are 13 different types of funds included here. They are gold oriented funds; global funds; global small-cap funds; international funds; international small-cap funds; European region funds, Pacific region funds; Japanese funds; Pacific ex-Japan funds; China region funds; emerging markets funds; Latin American funds; and Canadian funds. For the first six months of the year, the average fund in this grouping was down 11.59 percent. Second quarter performance figures show the average fund's performance up almost one percent. Biggest winners for the quarter were gold oriented funds, ahead over 19 percent; Latin American funds, up on average 7.66 percent; and global small-cap funds, up 6.23 percent.

  • Mixed Equity Funds. Six fund types make up this grouping: flexible portfolio funds; global flexible portfolio funds; balanced funds; balanced target maturity funds; convertible securities funds; and income funds. For the year, the average fund was down 3.30: For the quarter, up 3.13 percent, with not a down fund type in the lot. Here, balanced funds gained the most, 3.4 percent, followed by flexible portfolio funds, up 3.21 percent and convertible securities, up 2.9 percent.

    And there you have the inside scoop on this year's year-to-date fund performance figures ala Lipper.

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