I Love Mutual Funds

I've come to this love a little late in life, but then, lots of people are late bloomers when it comes to various aspects of their lives. Colonel Sanders, for example, launched Kentucky Fried Chicken (now a vital part of Yum! Brands) in his 60s, when most people stop working. And Raymond Chandler published his first short story at 45.

But back to funds. I love them for their simplicity and ease. Find some good ones (as I've done through our Motley Fool Champion Funds newsletter, which is handily beating the market and which you can try for free), invest, and you'll have few more decisions to make. Just hang on and profit over time.

Consider, for example, the remarkable FMI Focus Fund (FUND: FMIOX  ) , which has gained an annual compound average of 21% over the past decade. Its top holdings recently included Rent-A-Center (Nasdaq: RCII  ) and Manpower (NYSE: MAN  ) .

If you're interested in a certain industry, a fund can have instantly invested and diversified in it. Like health care? The Vanguard Health Care Fund (FUND: VGHCX  ) will give you Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN  ) , Forest Labs (NYSE: FRX  ) , and about 80 other companies. Its 10-year average return? 16.2%.

If you want to invest internationally but don't know where to start and are (quite reasonably) intimidated because you don't know the securities laws and economic/political stability of various regions, an internationally focused fund can solve your problem. The Nicholas-Applegate International Growth Opportunity Fund (FUND: NAGPX  ) , with a 10-year average of 19%, will give you the world. Its top nine holdings were recently from Ireland, Spain, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Canada, and Hong Kong. (Oops -- its minimum initial investment is $250,000. Fret not -- there are plenty of alternatives with much lower minimums.)

You don't even have to think much about regions and sectors if you don't want to. Invest in a simple broad-market index fund, such as one that tracks the S&P 500, and you'll instantly be invested in 500 of America's biggest companies. What's not to like there?

Take a little time to learn more about mutual funds. Perhaps you'll find that you love them, too. Our Mutual Fund Center is a great starting point, or browse through any of these articles:

What's sending Fools' hearts aflutter? Go back to our intro page to see what else we have a crush on.

Rent-A-Center is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Yum! Brands. The Motley Fool has a full disclosure policy.

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