So far this year, not a single diversified stock fund has made money. Most have gotten creamed: According to Morningstar, the average loss for funds that invest in the United States is 42 percent, and, for those that invest internationally, 50 percent. Here's a look at relatively conservative stock funds that produced positive returns during the last bear market (March 24, 2000, through Oct. 9, 2002) and have been holding up better than their peers so far this year.
Berwyn Fund (BERWX). Another solid choice for a small-company fund, the tiny $115 million Berwyn fund has a strong value bent. The managers buy stocks trading at deep discounts to expected earnings growth, and they aren't afraid to trim back on positions that have sharply appreciated. Recently, the fund's top holdings included several companies that have posted positive (or near positive) returns so far this year: Suffolk Bancorp, FPIC Insurance Group, and Granite Construction.
2000-02 bear market return:
2008 year-to-date return: -31 percent More funds for tough times: