Funds for Tough Times: Mairs & Power Growth

A relatively conservative stock fund that's 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.

Mairs & Power Growth (MPGFX). The team at Mairs & Power invests in what it knows: Minnesota. Most of the $1.7 billion fund's assets are in companies based in that state, which is the fund's home base. And these aren't obscure names: Medtronic, 3M, and Target were recently among the top five holdings. Low portfolio turnover is another of the fund's hallmarks. It's an incredibly low 4 percent, which implies an average holding period of roughly 20 years for each stock. The team, which seeks steadily growing companies with solid management, has steered the fund to a 7 percentage-point lead over the S&P 500 so far this year. The fund has also outrun 95 percent of its peers, which invest in a mix of growth and value stocks.

2000-02 bear market return: 5 percent

2008 year-to-date return: -32 percent

More funds for tough times:

Yacktman and Yacktman Focused

Fairholme

FAM Equity-Income

FAM Value

American Century Equity Income

Royce Special Equity

Berwyn Fund

Forester Value