Lipper and Standard & Poor’s, the latter in conjunction with Business Week, announced their 2002 mutual fund award winners yesterday.

Lipper’s winner in the multi-cap core fund category, the AmSouth Select Equity Fund, lost 9.1% last year, but was a full 13 percentage points ahead of the S&P 500 and 12.9 percentage points in front of its category.

S&P recognized American Fund’s Growth Fund of America as the top dog in the large-cap growth category. It returned a negative 22% in 2002, beating the S&P 500 index by only 1/10th of a percentage point. However, it bested its peers in its category by 5.7 percentage points. Looking further back, the fund showed a 3.8% annualized return over the five years trailing, beating the S&P 500 by 8.1 percentage points during that time frame.

Further evidence of the inclusion of funds that may have felt the claws of the bear, the Royce Low-Priced Stock fund, S&P’s winner in the small-cap value category, was dead even with its peers in 2002, with a negative 16.3% return. However, this fund has beaten the S&P over the trailing five years by 10.6 percentage points, producing an annualized return for the period of 6.3%.

Across the board, it was obvious that the numbers from the past year viewed in a vacuum would not merit awards. Many of the funds lost money, but they did not get hit as hard as their peers, which appears, for the most past, why Lipper & S&P chose to recognize them.

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