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These funds sparkled in the recent market rally

WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR?

Biggest gainers among Canadian and U.S. stock funds in the recent market rally.

Despite the stunning rebound, it's not clear whether the upswing is a bounce in a bear market or the start of a new bull era. The recovery has mainly retraced lost ground in the downturn earlier this year.

TODAY'S SCREEN

We asked Globefund analyst Victor Tan to screen the performance of the top 15 Canadian and U.S. stock funds from Mar. 9 to Mar. 26. The list includes large and small-company funds with at least a one-year record to Feb. 28, and are valued daily. We excluded pooled, segregated, U.S. dollar and duplicate funds.

WHAT DID WE FIND?

Eye-popping gains in 14 trading sessions.

The lucky beneficiaries included not only the smaller, more nimble funds, but also those with larger assets.

Among the Canadian stock funds, the Webb Enhanced Growth, which jumped 26.4 per cent, led the way followed very closely by the much larger Investors Canadian Large Cap Value Fund.

Strong gains by Webb Enhanced Growth stemmed from the opportunistic purchase of financial stocks near their bottom because manager Derek Webb felt they had fallen to "ridiculous" levels.

"The [Canadian] banks were oversold, but the life insurance companies were really oversold," Mr. Webb said.

He has 45 per cent of his portfolio in financials with 8 per cent each in Manulife Financial Corp. and Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.

U.S. regulators should ease up on mark-to-market accounting rules soon, and that will lead to another "massive rally" in financial stocks, he suggested. The rules requires firms to assign depressed market values to assets on balance sheets.

He also believes the recent rally is probably a rebound in bear market. "We are not out of the economic malaise, but we've had a massive decline without a relief rally," he said.

Among U.S. stock funds, Brandes U.S. Small-Cap Equity Fund jumped 41.5 per cent as hard-hit smaller-capitalization stocks rebounded.

"What we are seeing is strong returns from consumer discretionary stocks," and from home builders said Matt Brundage, assistant vice-president of product management at Brandes Investment Partners. The fund was helped by consumer names like department store retailer Dillard's Inc., auction house Sotheby's and appliance maker Whirlpool Corp. Some home builder names included Lennar Corp. and KB Home. "Retail homes sales have been stabilizing, and the home builders have rallied a lot," he said.

Top 15 Canadian Stock Funds March 9-26, 2009
YTD
(Feb'09)LatestMar 9-26% rtnCalendar year % returns
Fund nameCategory Assets ($-mil)MER% rtn (Mar 26)200820072006200520042003
Webb Enhanced GrowthCdn Foc. Equity3.426.46.7
Investors Cdn Large Cap Value-CCdn Foc. Equity1634.72.8425.75.3-35.51.011.926.013.515.6
Mavrix Dividend & IncomeCdn Sm/MdCp Eq69.32.3325.30.2-42.5-5.06.56.720.928.9
Trimark Canadian EndeavourCdn Foc. Equity577.92.1324.9-6.8-36.6-14.719.33.218.222.2
Mackenzie Universal Canadian ValueCdn Foc. Equity135.72.3523.9-2.1-28.8-5.912.612.211.812.3
AGF Canadian ValueCdn Foc. Equity115.42.4023.2-9.9-32.2-1.217.412.18.410.5
TD Canadian EquityCdn Equity1718.72.0722.95.4-42.210.523.126.218.923.7
AIC AdvantageCdn Foc. Equity353.52.4222.8-5.3-51.1-3.223.914.85.816.9
Investors Retirement Gwth. Port.-CCdn Foc. Equity636.62.9922.62.9-35.60.914.721.712.314.1
AIC Advantage IICdn Foc. Equity230.22.6822.6-5.9-51.4-3.423.314.05.716.2
Investors Summa SRI FundTM CCdn Foc. Equity770.12.8422.43.7-49.74.816.014.29.323.1
Dynamic Power Canadian GrowthCdn Foc. Equity1044.84.0922.03.8-51.425.425.628.416.735.6
BonaVista Canadian Equity Value-DCdn Equity6.01.2521.92.9-38.45.1
ScotiaMcLeod Cdn Core PortCdn Equity17.32.0521.7-0.7-33.18.49.0-2.78.9
Investors Canadian Growth-CCdn Equity111.32.8421.711.4-53.412.0
S&P/TSX Composite Index18.90.1-35.07.214.521.912.524.3
S&P/TSX Small Cap16.0-2.3-47.9-2.96.78.95.833.0
Top 15 US Stock Funds March 9-26, 2009
Brandes U.S. Small Cap EquityU.S. Sm/MdCp Eq22.82.5741.5-10.8-49.6-37.513.4-12.89.228.5
iShares CDN Russell 2000 IndexU.S. Sm/MdCp Eq14.00.3529.8-10.6-38.8
Acker Finley Select US Value 50-AU.S. Equity16.31.9429.3-6.7-54.5-16.610.113.913.9
AIC American Small to Mid CapU.S. Sm/MdCp Eq9.32.8929.3-8.9-34.3-18.2
DFA U.S. Value Class AU.S. Equity1.6229.0-12.7-32.2-20.117.57.39.6
Brandes U.S. EquityU.S. Equity37.92.5728.5-8.1-46.0-29.525.0-9.53.817.7
AGF U.S. Value ClassU.S. Equity15.72.8528.0-15.1-41.5-24.422.71.23.99.6
First Trust Dow 10 Strategy TrustU.S. Equity1.44.5227.5-17.8-25.1-16.825.8-9.5-7.02.9
Saxon U.S. Small Cap-ISU.S. Sm/MdCp Eq0.31.8626.8-16.0-24.0
TD US Large-Cap Value Curr Neutr-IU.S. Equity2.62.4226.8-12.4-39.40.2
Criterion US Buyback CH-HU.S. Equity2.526.5-4.7-37.5
Omega Consensus American EquityU.S. Equity37.41.9526.4-12.0-20.0
SEI U.S. MidCap Synthetic-OU.S. Sm/MdCp Eq37.40.1625.5-5.3-38.95.98.711.016.336.7
PH&N Currency-Hedged U.S. Equity-DU.S. Equity31.61.3825.4-10.0-38.30.4
DFA U.S. Small Cap Class AU.S. Sm/MdCp Eq1.8225.4-10.2-25.0-18.414.80.67.1
S&P 500 Composite23.1-7.8-38.53.513.63.09.026.4
Russell 2000-33.8-1.518.34.618.347.3
SOURCE: GLOBEFUND

swon@globeandmail.com

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