Standard & Poor's knows how to pick them. The mutual funds bearing the company's "Select Funds" imprimatur have outperformed its own S&P 500 index. S&P's first list of "Select" funds, 24 Large-Cap Growth Select Funds, gained 29 percent in the 12-month period ending March 12, 1999. By comparison, large-cap growth funds in the S&P 500 gained only 23 percent in this time period and large-cap growth funds overall gained 25 percent.

S&P confers the "Select" status on only 10 percent of funds in various categories, based on the funds' performance and management (MFMN March 22, 1999). Other rating systems look only at performance.

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