investing

Goldberg's Picks: 5 Best Low-Risk Stock Funds

These five funds will help you steady your portfolio through rocky markets.

Most investors couldn't care less about beating the market. They want solid returns from funds that will hold up well in awful markets. Over the past five weeks, I offered you my favorite low-risk stock funds. Here is a summary of those picks:

Sequoia Fund (symbol SEQUX)

When the storied Sequoia Fund reopened to new investors in 2008 for the first time since 1982, a lot of people, myself included, expected investors to inundate the fund with a torrent of new cash. After all, Sequoia was the fund that Warren Buffett Recommended to his clients when he dissolved his investment partnership at the end of 1969 so that he could focus on running Berkshire Hathaway. And for years, Sequoia delivered Buffett-like returns.

For the full story, see Sequoia Is as Sturdy as Its Name.

T. Rowe Price Capital Appreciation (PRWCX)

The recent market selloff has been a tonic for David Giroux. He has boosted the stock allotment in T. Rowe Price Capital Appreciation from less than 65% three months ago to 70% today, while cutting the fund’s cash position in half, to 7.5% of assets. And he’s loading up on beaten-down industrial stocks. “We’re optimistic when others are pessimistic,” says Giroux, who has piloted the fund since 2006. “The totality of the evidence today is that stocks are really cheap.”

For the full story, see Not Your Father's Balanced Fund.

Forester Value (FVALX)

Tom Forester is a belt-and-suspenders investor. Just look at his record. The most Forester Value Fund has ever lost in a calendar year: 5.2% in 2007. That was the fund’s only down year since its inception in 1999. It even squeaked out a 0.4% gain in 2008, when Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index lost 37.0%. For the entire 2007-2009 bear market, the fund shed only 22.7%, compared with the S&P 500’s 55.3% plunge.

For more on this fund, see the full story.

FPA Crescent (FPACX)

Just how good is FPA Crescent? Start with a couple of numbers. From its inception in 1993 through September 19, the fund returned an annualized 10.6% -- an average of 3.1 percentage points better than Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index.

And in recent years, the fund, which has been managed from the outset by Steve Romick, has done even better in relation to the market. Over the past decade, Crescent returned an annualized 9.5%, while the S&P 500 gained 3.7% a year.

For more on this fund, see the full story.

First Eagle Global (SGENX)

Japanese stocks have been a sinkhole for value investors. But Matthew McLennan, co-manager of First Eagle Global, has planted 20% of the fund’s assets in Japan, where the stock market is more than 75% below its 1989 peak.

That kind of contrarian move is just what you’d expect from a fund that was once run by Jean-Marie Eveillard. The legendary former fund manager, now 71, chalked up one of the best and longest records in the business -- and he did it while keeping his fund’s volatility remarkably low. He helped select McLennan and his fellow co-managers before stepping down (for the second time) in March 2009, and he still serves as “senior adviser” to First Eagle.

For more on this fund, see the full story.

Steven T. Goldberg (bio) is an investment adviser in the Washington, D.C. area.

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