Let's begin with a trio of what the lawyers like to call "stipulations":

  1. The market really does move in cycles, and last year's hot commodities sometimes turn cold overnight. (Real estate anyone? How 'bout energy?)
  2. If you want to buy low in anticipation of selling high, you should zig when others zag, putting your hard-earned moola to work before the "smart" money shows up.
  3. With Nos. 1 and 2 in mind, now's a great time to invest in big-cap stocks of the growth persuasion. Plain and simple, they represent the market's sweet spot.

Big time
Ever since the market melted down back in early 2000, value fare has trumped growth, and small caps have left large caps in the dust. Crunching the numbers, we find that the Russell 1000 Value index -- a benchmark anchored by discounted titans like Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) -- has crushed the Russell 1000 Growth, a bogey that counts racier big boys like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) among its top members.

The performance difference between the 1000 Growth index and the small-cap-centric Russell 2000 Value is even more striking. Between March 2000 and the close of 2006, in fact, the smaller-cap index -- which includes Big Lots (NYSE:BIG) and NBTY (NYSE:NTY) in its lineup -- smashed its big brother by a whopping 207 percentage points.

Can you smell the opportunity? I can. Indeed, given the market's all-but-inevitable cyclicality, I'd argue it's a matter of when -- not if -- large-cap growth returns to favor. The million-dollar questions, of course, are whether you'll be there to participate, and if so, which investment vehicle you'll be driving.

Avoid the potholes
To my way of thinking, world-class mutual funds are the best bet for those who want a smooth investment ride. There's no timing the comeback of a given area of the market, after all. Sometimes trends persist well past the point at which their trajectories are supported by fundamentals. And sometimes they don't. Just ask folks who plowed money into earnings-free tech and Internet stocks in the late 1990s -- just in time for the infamous bursting of the bubble.

If you'd like to avoid their fate, you can begin by zeroing in on the best growth funds the money management industry has to offer. As you do, but sure to focus on:

  • Fees: A low price tag gives a fund a built-in competitive advantage and signals that the company behind the fund puts its shareholders first.
  • Strategic consistency: When a savvy money manager's investing style is out of favor, he or she has a choice opportunity to "buy low." Make sure, therefore, that you're investing with managers who stick to their guns.
  • Managerial tenure: Don't be wowed by a fund's star-studded performance history. A fund can only be as strong as its management team, and their track record is the one you need to scrutinize.

If that sounds like a smart and sensible checklist -- and if you'd like to shave time off your research -- consider taking the Fool's Champion Funds investing service for a completely free trial run. We scrutinize the fund universe so you don't have to, cherry-picking the cream of the crop and profiling them in no-muss, no-fuss fashion in our monthly newsletter. Click here for a risk-free 30-day guest pass, and you'll have complete access to our back issues, model portfolios, and our full list of fund recommendations. That list, by the way, includes five ace large-cap growth funds, all of which have made money for members since first receiving the newsletter's nod.

Shannon Zimmerman runs point on the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter service and at the time of publication didn't own any of the securities mentioned above. Bank of America is an Income Investor pick. Pfizer and Microsoft are Inside Value recommendations. You can check out the Fool's strict disclosure policy by clicking right here.