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Shining stars since the dark days of 2009

What are we looking for?

Stars among Canadian stock funds since the market bottomed in March, 2009.

Let's see which funds have managed to navigate through the wild market swings since the global credit crisis, and come up with sparkling returns.

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The screen

We looked for top 15 gainers in the Canadian equity and Canadian-focused equity categories. (The latter can own up to nearly 50 per cent in foreign stocks.) U.S. dollar, segregated, and duplicate versions of the funds were excluded.

What did we find?

A trio of index-beaters with 23-per-cent annual returns.

Trimark Canadian Endeavour, iShares Diversified Monthly Income exchange traded fund and Fidelity Canadian Large-Cap A emerged as the leaders. Unlike its peers, however, the Trimark fund did not undergo any manager or investment mandate change over the three years.

Clayton Zacharias, portfolio manager with Invesco Canada Ltd. and manager of Trimark Canadian Endeavour, attributed the fund's performance to his ability to stick to his strategy during the panic-stricken days of 2009. "We made a number of very attractive investments at or near the bottom of the market," he said.

The biggest contributor was U.S. mattress maker Tempur-Pedic International Inc. He sold the last of his Tempur-Pedic -- which plunged to $4-a-share level in March, 2009 -- in March, 2011, at the $50-a-share range. Other big Canadian contributors include Newalta Corp., Onex Corp., and Brookfield Asset Management Inc.

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His fund is currently in 14 per cent cash partly because of the takeover of Flint Energy Services Ltd. and Solutia Inc., which he bought last fall as stock markets tumbled over euro zone debt woes. But his cash weighting is still down from north of 20 per cent early last summer. "We are a little bit cautious, but it is somewhat challenging to find a lot of great opportunities," Mr. Zacharias said. "We are nowhere near the opportunities that we had in the fall, and back in 2008-2009."

As for his two peers, the iShares Diversified Monthly Income ETF which offers investors a monthly income stream, is the result of a makeover in 2010 from its former life as iShares S&P/TSX Income Trust ETF. Fidelity Canadian Large Cap has been run by Daniel Dupont of Fidelity Investments Canada since March, 2010. He took over from Brandon Snow who joined CI Investments Inc.

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