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Mutual Fund Commentary

Investing in smaller and lesser known companies could be an intelligent choice for investors who are willing to take on a certain degree of risk. These companies may well turn out to be future corporate leaders and that means one could enjoy appreciable growth over the long term. Mutual funds are the best route for investors looking at this category since they select well diversified portfolios after conducting detailed and methodical research. This reduces the risk factor to a great degree while holding out the promise of appreciably higher returns.

Below we will share with you 5 top rated small-cap funds. Each has earned a Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) as we expect the fund to outperform its peers in the future. To view the Zacks Rank and past performance of all small-cap funds, then click here.

Conestoga Small Cap (CCASX) seeks capital appreciation over the long term. The fund invests heavily in equity securities of small-cap companies. It purchases common and preferred stocks, convertible securities and invests in rights, warrants and ADRs. Up to 20% of its assets may be invested in foreign securities. This small-cap fund returned 43.4% over the last one year period and has a five year annualized return of 4.15%.

Robert M. Mitchell is the fund manager and he has managed this small-cap fund since 2002.

Fidelity Advisor Small Cap A (FSCDX) invests the majority of its assets in small cap companies. It focuses on purchasing equity securities of companies with market capitalizations corresponding to those included in the Russell 2000 index or the Standard & Poor's SmallCap 600 index. The fund has a ten year annualized return of 3.6%.

The small-cap fund has a minimum initial investment of $2,500 and an expense ratio of 1.40% compared to a category average of 1.42%.

AllianceBernstein Small Cap Growth A (QUASX - MF report) seeks long-term capital growth. At least 80% of its assets are invested in smaller companies with market capitalizations of less than $10 million. It invests in both emerging and well-known companies and focuses on companies with strong earnings momentum. The fund has a five year annualized return of 4.19%.

As of February 2010, this small-cap fund held 108 issues, with 1.83% of its total assets invested in Bucyrus International, Inc. A.

Vanguard Strategic Small-Cap Equity (VSTCX) invests heavily in small-cap stocks. The fund focuses on domestic stocks and selects securities with relatively good growth prospects. It attempts to maintain a risk profile similar to that of the MSCI US Small Cap 1750 index. It is a no-load fund.

This small-cap fund returned 63.63% over the last one year period.

ING Small Cap Opportunities A (ASVIX) seeks long-term capital appreciation by investing the majority of its assets in small-cap companies. The fund focuses on purchasing common stocks of domestic companies with market capitalizations within the range of the Russell 2000 growth Index. The fund returned 66.81% over the last one year period and has a five year annualized return of 5.93%.

The fund manager is James Hasso and he has managed this small-cap fund since 2008.

To view the Zacks Rank and past performance of all small-cap funds, then click here.

About Zacks Mutual Fund Rank

By applying the Zacks Rank to mutual funds, investors can find funds that not only outpaced the market in the past but are also expected to outperform going forward. Learn more about the Zacks Mutual Fund Rank at

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