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Our Picks

Morningstar Analysts' Favorite Funds

Our Premium Fund Screener homes in on Fund Analyst Picks.

The  Premium Fund Screener is a great tool for sifting through reams of data and statistics in search of a fund that meets your needs. You can use it, for example, to whittle down the vast universe of domestic-stock funds to just those whose 10-year trailing returns land in their respective categories' upper echelons. Or, if you're looking for a conservative fixed-income offering, you can sift among bond funds to find those that invest in only the highest-rated issues. Because Premium Fund Screener offers quick access to hundreds of stats, the screens you can construct are limited mainly by your ability to come up with useful combinations of data.

That said, the tool has its limits. It can't return results based on a fund manager's strategy, for instance, or tell you how a conservative value manager somehow succeeded during the late-1990s growth craze. Similarly, it can't tell you about a newly appointed management team's multiyear track record at another fund or, more significantly, offer an opinion on whether that record is especially relevant at their new charge.

That, in short, is the job of mutual fund analysts at Morningstar. A good analyst tells the story of a fund's numbers, connecting the dots by putting the data in a context you can use to make an educated decision about whether a fund is right for you. Numbers are helpful, of course, but as anyone who has ever seen an all-star hitter hit a mid-season slump knows, they rarely tell the whole story.

Still, even though the tool can't provide context, it can put you just a click or two away from it. Two screens--Morningstar Analysis Available and Fund Analyst Pick/Pan--are there for just that purpose, in fact. As their names suggest, these filters limit your results to just those funds that Morningstar's analysts have spent some time researching and writing about. Thus, if you want to know what we thought about a fund before diving in, you'll want to add one of these criteria to your screen.

The Fund Analyst Pick filter, in particular, is very helpful if you want to focus on just those funds we believe are the cream of the crop. The Morningstar Rating is useful in finding funds with strong records, but because it's a backward-looking measure, a fund's 5-star rating may belong predominantly to another management team. That's not a problem with the Fund Analysts Picks, which are updated regularly throughout the year and are based on an analyst's judgment of how the fund will fare in the future. And when you use the Analyst Pick filter, there's no need to screen for funds that are open to new investment. That's a requirement of all our Analyst Picks.

For this week's screen, we'll incorporate the Fund Analyst Pick criterion in pursuit of a core international offering, one suitable for most investors looking to diversify a U.S.-focused portfolio. The universe of funds that invest in international equities can be quite volatile--not to mention trickier to navigate than domestic fare. But by limiting your search to just those funds that have earned Analyst Pick status, you'll begin with a short list of worthy contenders.

        (Fund Category = International Stock) 
and  (Role in Portfolio = Core) 
and  (Analyst Pick/Pan = Pick) 
and  (Distinct Portfolio Only = Yes) 
and  (Expense Ratio <= Category average)

Click here to run this screen yourself.

The criteria we included narrowed a list of more than 1,800 funds down to just 10 possibilities. Funds from our world stock, international hybrid, and foreign stock categories made the grade, and you'll of course need to do a little more homework in order to determine which, if any, of them suit your needs.

Incidentally, reading the Analyst Reports is a terrific way to start. After all, aren't you curious to know what made the funds Pick-worthy?