3 low-risk stock funds with top records, ratings

AP News
Posted: Nov 08, 2012 5:57 PM

With the election behind, investors' anxiety over the looming "fiscal cliff" became apparent as stocks fell sharply on Wednesday and Thursday.

Bush-era tax cuts will expire Jan. 1 and automatic federal spending cuts will be phased in unless Congress and the White House reach a deal on taxes and spending. If they don't, the fragile economic recovery could stall, and stocks could fall further.

It could be an opportune time for investors to assess their portfolios and consider whether to modestly reduce risk levels. Some might want to consider stock mutual funds that succeeded in limiting losses when the market fell sharply in recent years, while also performing well over the long haul.

Below are three such funds. Each invests primarily in large U.S. companies, the types of stocks that typically anchor a well-diversified portfolio. The funds all have 5-star records from Morningstar because of strong past performance. Morningstar analysts currently give each fund a top-rung gold medal rating, based on their assessments of each fund's future prospects.

In terms of the risks taken to achieve investment returns, each is rated "Low" by Morningstar, the lowest on a five-level scale. These ratings assess a fund's risks versus peers by a number of measures.

Each of the three funds charges fees of 1.00 percent or less. Each requires a minimum initial investment of $5,000 or less, so they're accessible to many individual investors. None charges an upfront sales fee, known as a load.

The three, listed in order of their 10-year returns:

Fund name 12-month return 5-year annualized return 10-year annualized return Expense ratio Minimum initial investment
FMI Large Cap (FMIHX) 11.7% 9.6% 9.4% 0.97% $1,000
Vanguard Dividend Growth (VDIGX) 11.2% 4 8.3 0.31 $3,000
Sequoia Fund (SEQUX) 14.5 4.8 6.9 1.00 $5,000

Fund returns through Nov. 7

Source: Morningstar