Congratulations, Janus (NYSE: JNS). In its annual review, released over the weekend, Barron's tapped the mutual fund family with a penchant for growth stocks as one of last year's best-performing firms in its industry.

Taking an asset-weighted approach to grading 2007 returns across a fund family's offerings in five different fund types, Janus came in third place among 67 qualifying companies.

I also raise my glass to Waddell & Reed (NYSE: WDR) and Eaton Vance (NYSE: EV) -- the gold and silver medalists, respectively -- but Janus has fought through much adversity to get this far.

Just four years ago, Janus was one of a handful of firms under investigation for letting bigshot traders bend the rules by frenetically trading in and out of select funds. Janus eventually settled, but the market wasn't ready to forgive the company. Redemptions outpaced new investments, even as the company's flagship funds continued to deliver category-topping results.

Time has been kind to Janus since those missteps. Healthy returns are the best way to say you're sorry, and that's exactly what Janus has accomplished. Janus ranks fourth in fund performance over the past five and 10 years.

You probably didn't need a copy of Barron's to figure that out. Janus posted excellent quarterly results two weeks ago. It has $206.7 billion in assets under management, a 23% improvement over the past year.

Janus isn't alone in rewarding stock investors by mastering the mutual fund industry. Rivals T. Rowe Price (Nasdaq: TROW) and Franklin Resources (NYSE: BEN) have also topped profit expectations in recent days. However, Janus has grown its asset base over the past year at a headier pace than both T. Rowe Price and Franklin have managed to do.

The industry is getting considerable attention lately, given the recent reopening of the legendary Fidelity Magellan (FUND: FMAGX) mutual fund. Though the bloated fund itself may not make a good investment, all of the marketing and publicity should ultimately help the entire sector, especially its better performers.

That's why it's good to be Janus -- or Waddell & Reed or Eaton Vance -- these days. The investors are coming! The investors are coming! Whether they have short memories or simply value performance over past indiscretions, the future really is bright for Janus.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz invests mostly in stocks but always has a mutual fund or two in his portfolio. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.