The Individual Investor's Guide to the Top Mutual Funds 2013

This year’s Top Funds Guide is published on the heels of a good year for mutual funds. Mutual fund assets totaled $12.872 trillion as of November 30, 2012, versus $11.627 trillion on December 31, 2011, according to the Investment Company Institute (ICI).

Credit the performance of the markets, domestic and foreign, for this increase. Many stock funds achieved double-digit returns in 2012, as did funds focused on long-term bonds, high-yield bonds and convertible bonds.

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The increase in assets under management may have been even larger had investors not pulled money out of stock funds. Domestic stock funds experienced weekly outflows 47 times during the period of January 4, 2012, to January 2, 2013, according to the ICI’s estimate of weekly mutual fund flows. In other words, there were only six weeks last year when domestic stock funds saw an estimated inflow of cash from investors.

One area where investors did put their investment dollars was target date funds. These funds are designed to adjust their portfolio allocations as the target date (e.g., 2015) approaches. Their popularity has been boosted by automatic enrollment and default allocation policies used by 401(k) and similar employer- sponsored retirement plans. Many investors are also choosing target date funds because of the allure of an “all-in-one” approach to portfolio allocation.

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Discussion

Peter Chang from California posted about 1 year ago:

I am a very new beginner of this. I just do not know how and where to start. Can you guide me?


Jack Salazar from California posted about 1 year ago:

Peter,

The world of investing can be very intimidating, so use caution.

Start with Beginner's courses here on AAII:
http://www.aaii.com/journal/category/beginning-investor

At the very bottom, is how to start.

And as a beginner, you should start with small purchases to get a feel for it, and do not go "whole hog" with your money, lest you lose a substantial portion of it.


Lynda Smith from New York posted about 1 year ago:

a young investor will benefit from using "dollar cost averaging"
By investing a monthly amount you average the highs and lows of the market. You are able to have the funds deducted automatically from your bank.


Richard Chapman from Colorado posted about 1 year ago:

Start first, learn later. Pick any one of the first 25 funds in Table 3 and open an account, adding to it monthly. Next, study the fund you've chosen: what it says, what it holds, how it works. Use that information to pick a second fund that behaves differently, maybe in another sector, maybe another style. Whatever you do, don't get bogged down in thinking too hard. Action speaks louder. You need to get in the game, not sit on the sideline. So act!


Paul Staab from New York posted about 1 year ago:

File names don't match performance tables 3,4 and 5 above.


J Traeger from California posted about 1 year ago:

Table I - Performance of Index Benchmarks - How is "Total Risk Index" calculated? What is the baseline?


Jean from posted about 1 year ago:

J-
As defined above in A Key to Terms and Statistics: The Total Risk Index is the standard deviation of a fund [or an index] return divided by the average standard deviation of return for all funds. Standard deviation is a measure of return volatility and is computed using monthly returns for the last three years. A value of 1.00 denotes average risk. Values above 1.00 indicate greater risk than average while values below 1.00 indicate less risk than average.
-Jean at AAII


Dewaine Osman from New Jersey posted about 1 year ago:

Some of your pages don't have the left side. They are missing. Page 11 is an example


R Walker from Alabama posted about 1 year ago:

Do the 3, 5, and 10 Year Annual Return % include reinvestment of dividends, if any?


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