Has Janus Capital Group (NYSE:JNS) been forgiven? After the company took a $225 million settlement hit last year to get past some embarrassing fund-manager improprieties, fund owners weren't convinced that everything was kosher, and many continued to pull their money out of the company's family of mutual fund investments.

However, there are two reasons to believe that Janus is finally starting to woo back investors. For starters, during the company's second quarter, net outflows amounted to just $0.1 billion. That excludes a pullout by ING (NYSE:ING) that had been announced earlier.

The other reason is as clear as the copy of Tuesday's Wall Street Journal. In its overview of top-performing funds in 2005, there was a whole lot of Janus going on. Of the 906 funds in the Large-Cap Core category, Janus has a pair of entries in the top 10. In Large-Cap Growth, its Janus Adviser Forty (FUND: JARTX) leads the pack of 716 funds. Janus Orion (FUND: JORNX), meanwhile, is second in the Multicap Growth listing.

Performance is perhaps the best way to get jaded shareowners back into your good graces. That's why it has to be heartening for Janus to see a few of its funds doing so well relative to its hundreds of rivals.

The performance doesn't really surprise me. Last summer, I was ready to forgive Janus. Not only did I expect the company to be overly vigilant in the future, but I was also motivated by the terms of the settlement that had Janus lowering its management fees. Cheaper expense ratios naturally help inch returns higher, though obviously there is more going on here than just shaving a few basis points from management fees.

Our own Shannon Zimmerman is a bit more particular. He has yet to single out a Janus mutual fund as an active recommendation in his Champion Funds newsletter service. Instead, he has focused on winners coming from more ethically transparent operators, like Vanguard and T. Rowe Price (NASDAQ:TROW).

That doesn't mean that an investor should ignore Janus. In fact, I would be surprised if the company's streak of net outflows isn't put to rest when the company reports its quarterly results come October. After watching Janus shares lapped in performance by its publicly traded peers such as Price, Franklin Resources (NYSE:BEN), and Eaton Vance (NYSE:EV), it may now be Janus' chance to shine.

In the meantime, I won't be keeping a vigil until Shannon does ante up and recommend a Janus offering. However, he's been picking some pretty intriguing market-thumping mutual funds lately. You would be well-served by taking a free trial subscription to Champion Funds.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz believes that mutual funds are an important part of any stock portfolio. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story -- or Janus funds -- though he does own shares in the Oakmark International Small Cap mutual fund. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.