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Morning commuters walk past the New York Stock Exchange. A North American fund can buy U.S. technology, health care and industrial stocks that are less prevalent in the Canadian market.

BRENDAN MCDERMID/Reuters

What are we looking for?

Biggest gainers among North American equity funds.

With the Canadian market mired in the red and the U.S. market in the black for the year ended July 31, let's see how these go-anywhere funds have performed.

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The screen

We ranked North American equity funds by their one-year return to the end of July. Keep in mind that the group includes funds with assorted investment strategies. U.S. dollar, segregated, and duplicate versions of the funds were excluded.

What did we find?

Dividend funds sitting pretty amid a mixed-bag of returns.

TD North American Dividend fund led the way with a 13.2-per-cent gain. The similarly run BMO Guardian North American Dividend and BMO North American Dividend funds rose 7.8 per cent and 7.7 per cent, respectively.

"Dividend stocks in general have been outperforming" because of investors' hunger for yield, said Justin Flowerday, a portfolio manager with TD Asset Management Inc. "The level of bond yields – whether government or corporate – is really, really low."

And the beauty of a North American fund is the ability to buy U.S. technology, health care and industrial stocks that are less prevalent in the resource- and financial-heavy Canadian market, said Mr. Flowerday, co-manager of TD North American Dividend.

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The average yield of stocks in the TD fund, which focuses on dividend growth, is 3.4 per cent. It is currently 75 per cent invested in U.S. securities.

The fund's current tilt toward U.S. stocks since the financial crisis stems largely from finding multinational companies with strong brands "trading at really attractive valuations," he said. Over the past year, names such as International Business Machines, Pfizer, AT&T and Abbott Laboratories have been among its big gainers.

In the Canadian market, many companies, especially those in the resource sector, have been beaten up because of concerns about global growth and China's slowing economy, Mr. Flowerday said. "I am not convinced that the China growth story is over....We are in the midst of evaluating some really good businesses trading at good prices."

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