The stock market peaked Oct. 9, 2007, and so far, just eight general stock funds have recouped their losses.
True, many specialized funds have returned to profitability. Most of those are bear funds — that is, they make money when the stock market falls. For example, Leuthold Grizzly Short fund has gained 42.7% since the stock market peaked in 2007.
And a few are sector funds. iShares Gold, for example, tracks the price of gold. It has gained 24.9% since the market's top.
But eight general U.S. stock funds have eked out a gain since the credit crunch brought the market low, and they deserve some attention. The biggest winner, Oceanstone fund, is a tiny fund that has soared 204.6% since the market bottom on March 9. It lost just 39% during the bear market. Manager James Wang didn't return calls. But according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, the fund was 98% invested on March 31, and its largest holding then was Valero energy.
The fund appears to move around quite a bit — its portfolio was about 25% in money market securities, or cash, on Dec. 31, and had several different holdings. In that respect, it's much like Prasad Growth, another fund that has eked out a gain since the 2007 peak. It's up 19.3%.
Manager Rajendra Prasad, who is a doctor in his spare time and also sits on the board of Oceanstone, looks for stocks with good earnings prospects. But he also shuttles in and out the market, and he sat out most of the bear market in cash and then swooped back into the market in March. He's back in cash now. "I think we're in a bear market," Prasad says. "The coast isn't clear yet."
Other funds that have gone positive since the bear market: Forester Discovery (+17.7%), which also sat out much of the bear market in cash, Embarcadero Absolute Return (+17.1%), Intrepid Small Cap (+10.1%), Reynolds Blue Chip Growth (+3.5%), Forester Value (+0.3%) and Gabelli ABC (+0.3%).
We never get to report items like this in a mutual fund column: Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments, has a pan-galactic résumé: graduate of the Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of International Relations and Public Policy; former trustee of Princeton University; board member, DreamWorks Animation SKG, Estée Lauder, Starbucks; columnist for Black Enterprise; regular contributor to Good Morning America. She's been dating USC graduate George Lucas since 2007. He's in the movie business ... Doug Eby, former manager of the Torray fund, will launch the 17 Mile Value fund in September, Morningstar says. ... Jack Laporte, longtime manager of T. Rowe Price New Horizons, will be leaving in March; Henry Ellenbogen will replace him. ... Jennifer Uhrig is out as manager of Fidelity Blue Chip Growth; Sonu Kalra will take over.