Let's cut right to the chase, shall we? The current issue of the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter is worth the price of an annual subscription on its own -- and you can take the plunge for free right now.

Curious? We thought so. Here's the inside scoop.

Greatest hits
Like those old K-tel records you used to love as a kid -- C'mon, admit it: You know you own Mellow Gold -- the March edition of Champion Funds is something like a greatest-hits collection. The current issue reviews each of the picks I've made over the last year, revisiting the investment thesis (as the pros like to say) and finding that -- surprise, surprise -- in every case, that thesis still holds water.

That's no coincidence, of course. All but one of our recommendations has made money for shareholders since I gave it the nod. And taken as a whole, our picks have handily beaten the market since we first opened for business back in March 2004.

To be sure, our investing timeline remains three to five years, but it's gratifying to have gotten off to such a strong start. Indeed, our strongest performer so far has handed index-tracking funds such as Vanguard 500 Index (FUND:VFINX) and Vanguard Total Stock Market (FUND:VTSMX) -- as well as popular exchange-traded funds such as Spiders (AMEX:SPY) and iSharesS&P 500Index (AMEX:IVV) -- a drubbing, sprinting to an advantage of more than 30 percentage points since I first recommended it to Champion Funds subscribers.

Despite that strong run-up, I continue to think it's a compelling buy opportunity. And while I feel that way to varying degrees about each of our picks, some buying opportunities are sweeter than others. To that end, the current issue of the newsletter also spotlights the pick that I regard as the Champ mostly likely to deliver outsized returns over the next three to five years.

Built to last
Why am I so confident in our funds? Good question. Here's the good answer:

As every Fool knows, the money management biz is rife with mediocrity. In our newsletter, however, we zero in on just those funds that have Championship attributes, such as talented managers, battle-tested strategies, and strong track records of success. Our funds also feature well-diversified portfolios. Whether they invest in the likes of go-go companies such as Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) and Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) or more value-oriented fare such as Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), our fund picks are designed for investors who want to build wealth over the long haul while getting a good night's sleep along the way.

They also come equipped with a built-in competitive advantage that's sure to appeal to cheapskates (like me) everywhere: low costs. Indeed, while the typical stock fund -- you know, the one you wouldn't want to touch with a proverbial 20-foot pole -- will swipe roughly 1.5% of your assets each year for the "privilege" of investing in it, our Champs will ding you less than 1%, on average.

In addition to being run by smart folks with smart strategies, then, our funds begin each year with a nice head start. Every basis point of expense, after all, represents a hurdle that a fund's management team has to overcome relative to less-pricey peers -- not to mention expense-free benchmarks such as the S&P 500.

Not too shabby, eh?

Coming soon
In addition to the year-end review, there are a few significant changes coming down the Champion Funds pike, several tweaks, improvements, and fine-tunings that are designed to make the newsletter service even more useful for our subscribers. I'll have more to say about those in upcoming commentaries, but, speaking of our subscribers...

Along with the newsletter itself, the Champion Funds community is one of the vital elements of the service. I've been investing in and analyzing mutual funds for quite a while now, and I learn new things every day on our dedicated discussion boards. Your free Champion Funds trial will give you the opportunity to test-drive those -- along with the rest of the Fool's world-famous boards -- and see what you think.

For my part, I think you'll be mighty impressed. But you don't have to take my word for it: Click here to see for yourself. In the meantime, stand by for details on our upcoming changes. I, for one, couldn't be more excited about rolling them out!

This commentary was originally published on Feb. 8, 2005. It has been updated.

Shannon Zimmerman, chief analyst for Motley Fool Champion Funds, is a fund fan of long standing. Shannon owns shares of Vanguard Total Stock Market fund. The Motley Foolhas a disclosure policy.