Mutual fund investors are better served by following a "buy and hold" investment strategy rather than moving in and out of top performing funds, according to the SEC.

The SEC last week issued a series of tips to investors which warns that factors such as fund expenses and fund size are just as important as short-term performance when deciding whether to buy a fund. In addition, fund investors should not chase recent high returns because gains may be difficult to repeat as a hot-performing fund grows in size, the SEC said.

"Chasing fund performance is often the quickest way to hurt your mutual fund returns," said SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt in a statement. "Investors should comparison shop for funds that best match their long-term financial goals and tolerance for risk."

A record 177 funds posted returns of 100 percent or more last year, the SEC said. Prior to 1999, no more than six mutual funds had doubled their investors' money in the same calendar year, the SEC said.

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