Who's got the best mutual fund family of 2012?

Putnam Investment Managementtook the honors inBarron's/Lipper Fund Family Ranking, rising like a phoenix from the ashes (namely, rank 57) of 2011. Putnam was followed byPimcoandThe Hartford Mutual Funds. 

Putnam scored terribly in 2011 given "critical, poor calls" on bets likeBank of Americaand the decision to avoid fixed income. But strong performance in equities and taxable bonds in 2012 helped it recover its groove in a wham-bang way. 

Chief executive officer and presidentBob Reynoldsis "very bullish on stocks," insisting that bonds are risky given low interest rates, reports Barron's/Lipper. He also stresses that fundamental security picking "has a bright future," according to Barron's/Lipper. 

"We would rather be an equity holder than a bond holder," Reynolds told Barron's/Lipper. "The upside is much, much greater. I don't see how interest rates can get much lower at this point, which puts tremendous risk in the bond market."

Meanwhile, bond funds boosted Putnam, whose CEO and co-chief investment officerMohamed El-Eriannotes the "recent surge in risk assets."

"What really worked was buying more volatile, riskier stocks; and the market became more tolerant of risk as the year went on,"Paul Quinsee, chief investment officer of the U.S. equity division atJPMorgan Asset Management, told Barron's/Lipper. JPMorgan scored rank four, whileGoldman Sachsnabbed rank five to round out the top five performers of 2012. Both JPMorgan and Goldman scored within the bottom half in 2011.

In 2011,Delaware Managementranked first based on its focus on fixed income, followed byVanguard GroupandNeuberger Berman Management, in that order. 

Barron's/Lipper ranking takes into account the one-year performance of all equity and fixed-income funds, assessing performance in five categories at specific weightings: U.S. equity funds at 35%, world equity at 16%, mixed-asset (balanced funds) at 17%, taxable bonds at 27%, and tax-exempt bonds at 4%.

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