Its one of those ice water questions: How do stocks or funds do after you write about them?

While I like to think that my job is to be a critical and analytical reporter, with the emphasis on reporting, it remains that I try not to write about investments that I think are about to bomb. I write about investments (and ways of investing) that appear to be working well (and why) and about investments that are selling at distress sale prices. Occasionally, I ring an alarm bell— but most of the time I urge readers to follow a passive route.

The score? One clear bomb and four ideas that probably played out better than the alternatives. Even so, measuring up to the S&P 500 index continues to be a reliable source of renewed humility for professional and amateur stock pickers, alike. While more funds have beaten the index than usual in the last year, the S&P beaters are still a minority. Only about 30 percent have done better. Similarly, less than 30 percent of all common stocks have done better than the index.