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Mutual Funds Are Hot

By Dian Vujovich

If the Dow Jones Industrial Average were to stay at the level of yesterday’s close,(8/27), 2009 would turn out to be one prosperous year for mutual fund investors.

A read through my weekly Lipper Performance Report showed the average year-to-date performance of the 12,872 funds that they cover to be a whopping 22.08 percent. Isn’t that refreshing.

Looking back at historic returns, since year-end 1975 through year-end 2008, there have only been 10 years in which the DJIA closed up over 20 percent from the previous year. The two most recent ones were 2003, when it ended the year up 25.32 percent and in 1999 when it closed up nearly the same at 25.22 percent.

Of the 63 different types of equity funds included in Lipper’s universe of 12,872, Latin American Funds have returned the most—the average one was up over 67 percent. In the entire lot, only one fund category was in the tank: Dedicated Short Bias funds were down on average 33.62 percent. It’s included under Lipper’s U.S. Diversified Funds heading.

Here’s the lowdown on Lipper’s year-to-date fund performance figures beginning Dec.31, 2008 and ending Aug. 27, 2009:

•U.S. Diversified Funds. There are 20 different types of funds under this heading. The average performance for the 8,194 funds in the group was 19.42 percent.

•Sector Equity Funds. Of the 1,757 funds in this group of 20 types, the average year-to-date return was 22.40 percent. The biggest performance winners were Global Science/Technology funds. They were up on average 45.8 percent.

•World Equity Funds. Twenty-three types of funds fall under this heading that includes 2,931 different funds. The average fund performance, through yesterday, was 22.08 percent. Latin American fund investors have seen those funds sizzle this year. The average return for the 30 funds in that group was 67.15 percent.

With four months to go, though, returns remain everybody’s guess.

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