Few fund families have amassed the name recognition and sheer assets of American Funds. This behemoth ranks among the nation's top three fund families, currently boasting more than $900 billion in net assets. American Funds and its subadvisor, Capital Research & Management, have assembled an impressive stable of funds, some of which particularly deserve investors' attention. We'll spotlight some of these funds below.
Growth Fund of America (AGTHX)
Growth Fund of America is the largest mutual fund in existence, with almost $177 billion in net assets. This fund has reached such colossal heights because few similar funds can match its performance record. Despite its moderate-growth orientation, this fund has managed to keep pace with, and even beat, the broader market in recent years. Growth Fund's long-term track record is also impressive, posting a 12.9% annualized 10-year return through May 31, 2007, compared to just 7.8% for the S&P 500. Its consistency is also remarkable, having landed in the top half of its peer group in every calendar year for the past 10 years.
Growth Fund focuses on large-cap stocks with high growth potential, such as current top holdings Microsoft
As with all American Funds, Growth Fund is run using Capital Research & Management's multiple portfolio counselor system. Several managers each control their own independent sleeve of the portfolio, with new counselors added as inflows increase. At some point, this fund will begin to bump up against capacity constraints; for now, it seems that Growth Fund has plenty of room to run.
Europacific Growth (AEPGX)
Decent international funds with established track records are few and far in between. Europacific Growth Fund is one of them. This globetrotter invests mainly in companies found in Europe and the Pacific Basin, with Bayer
With the exception of 1999, in which the fund posted a nearly 57% gain, returns have been solid, but not spectacular. For the 10-year period ending May 31, 2007, the fund was up an annualized 11.3%, versus 8.2% for the benchmark MSCI EAFE Index. Europacific Growth also holds a slug of emerging-market names, so it can be affected by the ebb and flow of this segment. All in all, it's a solid choice for investors seeking a broadly diversified foreign fund.
Income Fund of America (AMECX)
If you're looking for a balanced fund that holds both stocks and bonds, the Income Fund of America might be right up your alley. It employs five portfolio counselors on the equity side, and four counselors to find fixed-income securities. Income Fund typically allocates between 50% and 60% of its portfolio to equity securities, never straying far from that range. It seeks stocks that pay above-average dividends, such as top holdings AT&T
Income Fund has posted an annualized 10.1% return for the 10-year period ending May 31, 2007. That's pretty impressive for a fund holding roughly half of its assets in fixed-income securities. It's even more striking that the fund has lost money in only three out of the last 30 calendar years. Talk about protection of capital! It's rare to find a balanced mutual fund that can protect investors well during downturns, yet still provide competitive equity returns. Income Fund of America manages to do both.
American Funds has many fine offerings, but if you're considering buying into this fund family, start your search with these three candidates. They're outstanding examples of American Funds' overall excellence.
Fool contributor Amanda Kish lives in Rochester, N.Y., and does not own shares of any of the companies or funds mentioned herein. Microsoft is an Inside Value recommendation. The Fool has an all-American disclosure policy.