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WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR?

Leaders and laggards among Canadian stock funds since the market bottom in March.

The Canadian stock market staged an impressive rally from March 9th to year end. Let's see what funds were best positioned for the rebound, and those that trailed the most.

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TODAY'S SEARCH

We asked Victor Tan, a fund analyst at Globe Investor, to screen for the big movers and plodders among Canadian equity, Canadian focused equity and Canadian dividend and income funds from March 9 to Dec. 31. We also looked at how the funds fared in 2008 when the market collapsed. Segregated, U.S. dollar and duplicate versions were excluded.

WHAT DID WE FIND?

No guts. No glory.

Investors who didn't have the stomach to go bargain hunting during the gut-wrenching lows missed out.

The top 15 funds beat the S&P/TSX Total Return of 59 per cent from March to year end. And four of the offerings were low-fee exchanged-traded funds (ETFs).

The actively managed funds include Investors Canadian Large Cap Value, which topped the list with an impressive gain of nearly 92 per cent.

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The fund, which is run by manager Dom Grestoni, was positioned for an economic recovery. It got a strong lift from rebounding commodity stocks like base metals giant Teck Resources Ltd.

The comeback funds also included the Manulife AIC Advantage Funds, which are 60-per-cent invested in wealth-management firms. They gained 88 per cent.

"As the market started to rebound, assets under management went up," said Robert Almeida, a manager at Portland Investment Counsel Inc. and who co-runs the AIC Advantage Funds. "The market started to recognize that, if you are in a recovering market, the outlook for asset managers is for earnings growth."

Stocks that helped fuel the returns of the funds included DundeeWealth Inc., along with affiliated firm Dundee Corp., and AGF Management Ltd.

Infosys Technologies Ltd., an India-based information technology services provider with a big weighting in the funds, benefited from a rebounding financial services sector because their firms are big clients, Mr. Almeida said.

Four ETFs, which made the top 15 list, included iShares CDN Value, up 82 per cent, and Claymore S&P/TSX Canadian Dividend, up 78 per cent.

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Among the laggards were Mackenzie Ivy All Canadian Class, up 22 per cent, and Mackenzie Ivy Canadian, which rose 23 per cent. While these funds were plodders during the market recovery, they also lost a lot less in the 2008 market meltdown.

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