Morningstar recently released its top picks for equity funds that not only perform well but also are shareholder friendly, and now the Chicago fund tracker has applied the same metric to determine the industry's best fixed-income products.

Unlike many of the "excellent"-rated foreign and domestic funds in the Morningstar Stewardship Grades, just one on the fixed-income side is closed to new investors. The T. Rowe Price High Yield was capped in 2004.

But other excellent bond funds, according to Morningstar analyst William Samuel Rocco, include the West Core Plus Bond, an intermediate term bond fund that "looks quite good" from numerous perspectives; Northeast Investors, a high-yield offering with an impressive track record that can be traced back to "an exceptionally experienced management team;" and the Metropolitan West Low Duration Bond fund, a short-timer with "a strong record, a distinctive style and a distinguished management team."

Dozens of other funds earned "good" ratings from Morningstar. Among those, according to Rocco, are the T. Rowe Price GNMA, which has "one of the better risk/reward profiles" in its category; the USAA Tax-Exempt Intermediate Term, a muni-national fund with a "savvy manager" and an "income-oriented strategy" to complement its stewardship profile; and the Loomis Sayles Bond, an offering that has "walloped the average multi-sector bond fund over the long run, as Dan Fuss and Kathleen Gaffney have executed their aggressive, contrarian strategy well."

The Morningstar Stewardship Grades now include 1,150 funds. It was launched in response to the mutual fund scandal.

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