There are about three feet of snow on the ground as I write this story. Chances are another foot of powder will be added to the pile by the time you read it.

But don't feel sorry for me. Unlike the poor slobs who were scrounging at Home Depot a few weeks back, I've got a snow shovel.

Two blizzards, no shovels
You read that right. Home Depot sold out of snow shovels during a 48-hour break between the two blizzards that hit Colorado during the week between Christmas and New Year's. I feel bad for those who were left without a way to dig themselves out.

But then again, what kind of moron lives in Colorado and doesn't own a snow shovel? Probably the same guy who owned these stocks:


1-Year Loss

Midway Games (NYSE:MWY)


Revlon (NYSE:REV)


Westwood One (NYSE:WON)


XM Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:XMSR)


Beazer Homes (NYSE:BZH)


Price data from Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

Comfort against the cold
I'm not here to pile on. After all, I, too, had some whoppers in our portfolio.

My point is that big losses, like snow in Colorado, are inevitable. What matters is how well you've constructed your portfolio. Can it withstand the stock market equivalent of back-to-back blizzards? Maybe, if you own a lot of stocks. Fund fans, however, have it easier.

For proof, let's revisit our lovable losers from above. Instead of dabbling in XM shares, you could have owned the Schneider Value fund, which still has roughly 2% of its $218 million in assets in the stock.

But Schneider also owned winners Hilton Hotels (NYSE:HLT) and CSX (NYSE:CSX), which helped the fund earn more than 23% last year. It's that sort of diversification that has led some to call mutual funds the finest investment vehicle ever designed.

The best protection
Not that any fund will do, mind you. Electric City Value also owns XM, yet it charges investors a whopping 1.95% expense ratio -- a fee you paid even as you lost to the index by five percentage points in 2006.


So what should you look for? Go back to Schneider Value. First, with a 0.85% expense ratio and no loads, the fund is cheap. Second, the guy who manages the fund, Arnie Schneider III, has his name on the door. That indicates he's staked his reputation on the fund's performance. And third, Schneider is building a track record for outperformance. This is exactly the sort of manager you should steal from.

Profit from the choices of champions
Before you go giving Schneider Value your money, know that the fund has a pretty prohibitive $20,000 minimum initial investment. But don't fret. There are plenty of other funds that will help you cheat your way to millions. Intrigued? You can see some Fool-endorsed funds by test-driving Shannon Zimmerman's Champion Funds service free for 30 days. His portfolio of winners is beating their bogeys by 10 percentage points as I write. Clicking here will get you immediate access to all of his picks.

And in the meantime, if you're here in Denver, please, do your neighbors a favor and buy a snow shovel before the next storm hits. We're happy to dig you out if need be, but we'd all be a lot better off if, like a fund-toting Fool, you had the tools to do the job yourself.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers didn't own shares in any of the stocks or funds mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Home Depot is an Inside Value pick. XM is a former Rule Breakers selection. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is always championship caliber.