While it is a mutual fund cliché that future results cannot be predicted by past performances, a new Morningstar study pounds the point home with a large wooden stick, according to Reuters.

By looking at fund performance from 1992 to 2001, the Chicago research firm found that only nine of 23 large-growth funds that ranked in the top quartile over the first five years stayed in that group in the second five years. In fact, one- and three-year returns showed even less of a correlation between the past and future returns.

Jeff Ptak, author of the report, told Reuters, "Investors often focus on past performance, but past performance doesn't tell you much about how a fund will perform in the future. It's important to put a fund's returns into context, so you can figure out why the fund performed the way it did."

Ptak explained that funds with low expenses are typically the most consistent. Hence, the success of Vanguard funds.

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