Here are some mutual funds that have done all the right things, except for gaining a following equal to their performance: • Croft...

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Here are some mutual funds that have done all the right things, except for gaining a following equal to their performance:

Croft Value (CLVFX): With almost 13 years of stellar performance and stable management in the books, it’s hard to figure out why this large-cap fund has never gained a following. The $30 million fund gets five stars from Morningstar, Lipper Leader marks for total return, consistent return and tax efficiency (and an above-average rating for preservation of capital), and has produced an annualized average gain of 7.5 percent over the last decade, crushing the Standard & Poor’s 500 over that period.

In the last five years, annualized average return is more than 19 percent. A 1.5 percent expense ratio is a drawback, and the fund’s bear-market performance was below par for its asset class, but the fund is better than a lot of bigger names.

Westport (WPFRX, WPFIX): A mid-cap fund with a five-star rating and $56 million in assets, this fund takes a focused-but-flexible approach that sometimes adds to volatility. That hasn’t stopped it from delivering over time; it’s in the top 10 percent of its peer group over the last decade, and is a Lipper Leader for total return, consistent return and preservation of capital. Expenses are 1.5 percent, the one big negative.

Sit Dividend Growth (SDVGX): Another five-star fund that gets Lipper Leader marks for total return, consistent return and preservation of capital, but this fund also benefits from being in a larger fund family. It’s comparatively young — it opened in 2003 and has $43 million in assets — but management has shown skill on other funds. The fund was created for institutions, with a $100,000 minimum, and didn’t open a retail-share class with a $5,000 minimum (SDVSX) until 2006. Because of its position with a broader, more-recognized investment firm, this one is not likely to remain undiscovered for long.

Dreman Contrarian Small Cap Value (DRSVX): When this fund reaches its fifth anniversary this year, it will have a five-year track record in the top 20 percent of its peer group. David Dreman is a big-time manager, and this is a way to get him in a small ($48 million) fund. Like the others waiting for the money to roll in, expenses of 1.5 percent are high, but Dreman’s other funds tend to cost less, so expenses will fall if results stay good and assets grow.

Monteagle Value (MVRGX): A large-cap value fund with a five-star rating from Morningstar, this fund ranks in the top 5 percent of its peer group over every time period from one week through five years. The expense ratio of 1.22 percent is good for an issue with just $20 million in assets.

My concern is that recent performance has been stellar — thanks to keeping more than a third of its assets in energy and utility stocks — but longer-term results have been a bit more mixed. To fully convince me, this one needs to prove it when market conditions change.

Chuck Jaffe is senior columnist at MarketWatch. He can be reached at cjaffe@marketwatch.com or Box 70, Cohasset, MA 02025-0070.