Kiplinger’s Mutual Fund Rankings, 2021

In a volatile year, the best portfolios had plenty of opportunity to shine.

mutual fund winner illustrations
(Image credit: Illustration by Jeff Rogers)

Most of us were all too happy to see an end to 2020, as the pandemic cast a shadow over everything. But from a stock investor’s perspective, the year was spectacular, and mutual funds had ample chances to prove their mettle. Despite swift bear market declines in bourses across the globe during February and March, by year’s end, most broad stock indexes closed at levels higher than at the start of 2020.

It was a year of firsts many times over. Investors suffered the first bear market in U.S. stocks in more than a decade and the deepest recession since the Great Depression, but both were gone in record time. And then began one of the best stock market reversals ever. From its bottom in March, the S&P 500 climbed 70%. The index’s 2020 return: A generous 18%. (Returns here are through December 31.)

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Nellie S. Huang
Senior Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Nellie joined Kiplinger in August 2011 after a seven-year stint in Hong Kong. There, she worked for the Wall Street Journal Asia, where as lifestyle editor, she launched and edited Scene Asia, an online guide to food, wine, entertainment and the arts in Asia. Prior to that, she was an editor at Weekend Journal, the Friday lifestyle section of the Wall Street Journal Asia. Kiplinger isn't Nellie's first foray into personal finance: She has also worked at SmartMoney (rising from fact-checker to senior writer), and she was a senior editor at Money.