It's hard to believe, but the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter -- the service designed to put the fun back in fund investing -- has been up and running for a full year now. Our collection of picks has fared well during that stretch of time; indeed, taken together, our basket of funds has beaten its benchmarks (the S&P 500 for stock picks and the iShares Lehman Aggregate Bond Fund ETF for fixed-income Champs) by more than four percentage points, a positively princely sum in the wonderful world of mutual funds.

To be sure -- and as I like to say early and often -- one year's time is just a drop in the bucket for long-term investors like us. Still, it's certainly gratifying to have started off by besting hard-to-beat index trackers such as Vanguard 500 Index (FUND:VFINX), Vanguard Total Stock Market (FUND:VTSMX), and the popular Spiders (AMEX:SPY) ETF. Indeed, among our many winners, one pick has surpassed the S&P by a whopping 19 percentage points since I recommended it, thanks to an eclectic portfolio that features the likes of Kmart (NASDAQ:KMRT), St. Joe (NYSE:JOE), Legg Mason (NYSE:LM), and Danielson Holding (AMEX:DHC), a small-cap bottle rocket thus far in 2005.

Thing is
But while I think we've done a fine job of cherry-picking the fund industry's best and brightest over the last 12 months, we haven't yet assembled those picks into meaningful wholes -- portfolios, if you will -- that Fools could actually invest in if they so chose.

Until now.

With the current issue of Champion Funds, we roll out the first of our three model portfolios, an aggressive lineup designed to help investors who like money and hate math build market-beating wealth over time while getting a good night's sleep along the way. (And for those moderate and conservative investors out there, not to worry: Our next two issues will roll out portfolios with you in mind, too.)

The Aggressive portfolio in full is just a risk-free trial away, but for a sneak peek at how it looks in profile, check out this handy-dandy chart, which aggregates Morningstar's historical data about our model's funds through the end of 2004:

Domestic Stock
Fund Average

Aggressive
Model Average
Manager Tenure 4.7 yrs 10.4 yrs
Expense Ratio 1.48% 0.74%
12b-1 Fee 0.42% 0.02%
+/- S&P (3 yrs) 1.52% 8.47%
+/- S&P (5 yrs) 3.69% 9.33%
Turnover 105% 30%


Numbers game
Like what you see? Me, too.

But as impressive as those numbers are, they wouldn't amount to a hill of beans without the, ahem, story behind the story. To that end, in Champion Funds we look beyond past performance and into the manager's track record. A fund's five-star rating, after all, may well belong to a crew that isn't even on the scene now. And when your goal is to pick tomorrow's winners today, you proceed from the assumption that a fund is only as strong as the folks who are calling the shots now.

Our funds, therefore, have outstanding track records during their current managers' tenure. That's especially important because, while fund companies are prone to touting a fund's past success, rarely do they tell you if that track record belongs to the team that's in charge right now. But never fear: Champion Funds does tell you that -- and a whole lot more besides. Indeed, the funds I've selected have all the key ingredients I look for when shopping for mutual funds myself. Their managers are proven, their strategies sound, and their expense ratios reasonable.

I'll have more to say about our model portfolios in my next few articles, so please stand by. And while you're standing.

Be sure to take a free test-drive of Champion Funds. To borrow a few words from David Gardner, the Fool's co-commander in chief:

"Read an issue, and discover for yourself whether it fulfills the spirit of our mission to educate, to amuse, and to enrich. Is your money optimally invested in funds? Our service may end up saving or earning you tens of thousands of dollars -- or more. And I guarantee we won't take a percentage of assets."

Thanks, Dave. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Shannon Zimmerman is a fund fan and Fool of long standing. He owns no securities mentioned here. The Fool has a disclosure policy.