With Putnam Investments, Legg Mason and Invesco AIM recently rolling out absolute-return funds that promise an upside regardless of the market’s condition, some wonder if that is possible.

“I’m quite skeptical of any fund that says you can have your cake and eat it, too,” Leo Marzen, a partner with Bridgewater Advisors, told The Wall Street Journal.

Other critics say that while it is understandable for fund companies to promote absolute-return funds coming off such a miserable year as 2008, traditional asset allocation provides balanced exposure. Also, since most absolute-return strategies have been used by institutional investors, there isn’t any historical data to prove whether they work; regulations prevent institutional investors from disclosing performance.

Some say traditional balanced funds may be just as good or better.

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