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Great Funds to Give as Gifts

Let our Premium Fund Screener be your gift-giving guide.

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Can it really be mid-December already?

It's hard to believe, but there are just eight shopping days left until Christmas. That can only mean one thing, of course: 'Tis the season for fast action on your holiday shopping.

We at Morningstar are here to help. No sense fighting angry hordes of shoppers, which, after all, can be quite a dangerous sport. And since your son or daughter would probably get only a few minutes of pleasure from that Mr. T Chia Pet you're contemplating buying for them, why not give a gift that keeps on giving?

Get them started on the path to a financially bright future with a rock-solid mutual fund, and they'll be thanking you for it into your dotage. Who knows? A few years from now, they might even be able to afford something for you other than that cologne-scented bar of soap-on-a-rope you seem to receive every year. (Not that you don't absolutely love it, of course.)

Because you care enough to give the very best, this week we'll use the  Premium Fund Screener to whittle down the vast universe of mutual funds to just those select few that have earned the coveted Fund Analyst Pick distinction. From there, we'll look for core no-load funds with investment minimums of no more than $1,000. You don't want to bust your holiday budget, after all. Moreover, because we're only looking among Fund Analyst Picks, you can rest assured that the funds the Screener turns up will have all the attributes we typically search for with other filters, namely experienced managers, reasonable expenses, and exemplary track records. Not for nothing do Morningstar analysts believe that these funds are the cream of the crop.

Click  hereto run this screen yourself.

And there you have it, a whole passel of star-studded stocking stuffers. We unwrap four of the packages below.

Happy hunting--and happy holidays!

 Artisan International (ARTIX)
The fund favors companies that are poised to enjoy superior earnings growth, but it is flexible in its pursuit of such issues. Thus, nontraditional growth stocks such as banks and insurers are often well represented in the portfolio, and mid-cap names are also fairly common.

 Oakmark I (OAKMX)
This fund's lead manager, Bill Nygren, is building a great record here, and he has put up fabulous numbers at now-closed sibling  Oakmark Select (OAKLX). Nygren has found plenty of stocks trading at discounts to their intrinsic values, then ridden them to huge gains.

 Selected American (SLASX)
This fund looks for great companies trading at discounts to their intrinsic values. As a result, most of its holdings are in the value or blend sections of the style box. It takes a long-term view, as should its shareholders.

 ICAP Select Equity (ICSLX)
This young fund is making a name for itself. It uses the same strategy as the successful  ICAP Equity (ICAEX), except that management concentrates this fund's assets in fewer names.

Shannon Zimmerman does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.