Funds for Tough Times: FAM Value

A relatively conservative stock fund that's been holding up better than its peers.

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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.

FAM Value (FAMVX). This fund's 10-year record--a 4 percent annualized return--is better than its cousin's. Tom Putnam has steered FAM Value since its 1987 inception (comanager John Fox fame on board in 2000). Just as with Equity-Income, the managers look for quality businesses with strong balanace sheets, solid management teams, and shares that are selling at a discount. Although dividends are still important, they're less emphasized in this fund, as appreciation is the primary focus. FAM Value's top holdings include White Mountains Insurance Group and Berkshire Hathaway.

2000-02 bear market return: 8 percent

2008 year-to-date return: -32 percent

More funds for tough times:

Mairs & Power Growth

Yacktman and Yacktman Focused

Fairholme

FAM Equity-Income

American Century Equity Income

Royce Special Equity

Berwyn Fund

Forester Value