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There is a good amount of turnover in the mutual fund industry. Often, funds that are relatively new and cannot post competitive returns are closed or merged away. The top mutual funds by assets for 2011 are, not surprisingly, the top fund investments by assets for 2010. And 2009.

They are familiar funds like Fidelity Magellan (FMAGX) and Templeton Growth (TEGRX), names that many mutual fund investors will recognize from their 401ks.

Yet could familiarity give a fund a longevity it doesn't deserve? A fund with a storied past, possibly under the helm of a legendary portfolio manager, might attract investment funds long after it has changed management and fallen back into the pack. Other funds become entrenched in corporate retirement plans, or rely on marketing rather than performance to draw attention.

Of course, these types of funds don't represent good investment ideas. Let's look at some widely known funds and ask: What have they done lately?

Fidelity Magellan

Launched in 1963, Fidelity Magellan gained traction only after legendary investor Peter Lynch came on board in 1977. Lynch went on to post one of the best records in mutual fund history, with an average annual return of 29%.

Lynch left the fund in 1990, and subsequent managers fell short of his remarkable record. The past few years have been particularly tough: The fund's manager, Harry Lange, made a bad bet on financials in 2008, when the fund declined by 49%.

Over the past five years, this fund has posted returns that have been lower than 88% of its peers in the large-cap growth category.

American Funds Growth Fund of America

It's a big name, and a big fund: American Funds Growth Fund of America (AGTHX) has a whopping $163 billion in assets. If it were a country, it would have a decent-sized GDP.

But can it be nimble enough to provide investors with exposure to growth? Perhaps this is why redemptions have amounted to close to $9 billion over the past year.

The fund's top holdings represent the typical large-cap fare and include Oracle (ORCL, news), Google (GOOG, news), Microsoft (MSFT, news) and Apple (AAPL, news). To juice things up, the fund's manager, James Drasdo, is increasing its exposure to foreign securities. This is certainly a smart idea; with its massive size, the fund has little choice but to look outside the United States.

Templeton Growth

Templeton Growth is another fund with a rich history. It was created in 1954 by John Templeton, who saw tremendous opportunity in foreign markets, especially Japan. Templeton eventually became a billionaire because of his investing prowess.

Unfortunately, Templeton Growth has been lackluster in recent years. The fund made some bad decisions, such as getting aggressive in Europe. lt also took a big position in health care stocks. There's money to be made in both areas, but it's important not to get in too early.

JHancock2 Lifestyle Balanced

JHancock2 Lifestyle Balanced (JALBX) is focused on providing steady returns. In general, manager Steve Orlich employs a 60-40 split between stocks and bonds.

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That mix should give the fund downside protection; fixed-income investments provide a buffer, while equities allow participation in rallies. This fund has fixed-income exposure to junk bonds, however, which can be solid investments but also pack some volatility.

Legg Mason Cap Management Value A

Between 1991 and 2005, Bill Miller's Legg Mason Cap Management Value A (LGVAX) fund beat the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) (even after adjusting for fees). It was a stunning performance, and no doubt resulted in huge inflows of investment funds.

But weren't markets supposed to be efficient? Well, perhaps they were -- in the long run. Miller in recent years has had a tougher time, underperforming the market in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010.

No doubt, Miller has tried extremely hard to return to his former market-beating ways. To that end, he has invested heavily in tech, financials and health care. Yet that has increased the overall risk to investors.

 
Take a second look?
FundCategoryExpense ratio3-year return (annualized)
Fidelity Magellan (FMAGX)Large-cap growth0.74%-1.3
American Funds Growth Fund of America (AGTHX)Large-cap growth0.69%1.5%
Templeton Growth (TEGRX)World stock1.35%-1.8%
JHancock2 Lifestyle Balanced (JALBX)Mixed asset0.56%4.2%
Legg Mason Cap Management Value A (LGVAX)Large-cap core0.99%N/A

This article was reported by Tom Taulli for InvestorPlace.