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As good as the U.S. equity markets have been this year, the best returns could be found overseas.

Indeed, of the 20 top mutual funds with at least $500 million in assets, 12 were focused on foreign assets, with 10 even more narrowly focused on emerging markets. Of the other eight funds, six were focused on tech.

Overall, these short-term winners have posted returns ranging up to 57% year to date.

The eye-popping returns haven’t come cheap. Expense ratios ranged from 54 basis points to 1.58%, with an average of 1.08%. With emerging markets investments, higher expenses are often expected, but can be a shock to some in an era of ever-declining fees.

To be sure, many advisors and clients found healthy gains in the inexpensive world of passive investing. The S&P 500 ETF from Vanguard has returned more than 19% year to date at a cost of just 4 basis points.

To check out this year’s winners – plus how they’ve fared over three years – click through the list. All data from Morningstar.


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