Furniture makers will tell you that three legs are necessary to make a stool stable. It's a metaphor that Thornburg International Growth Fund has taken to heart: Each of the fund's roughly 50 holdings falls into one of three categories - emerging growth companies, growth industry leaders or consistent growth companies.

"It's sort of a nice way to get an extra layer of diversification and to build an all-weather portfolio," says the fund's manager, Tim Cunningham. The emerging growth companies are the ones that often boost performance, although stocks in that basket tend to be more volatile. The other two categories provide more stability.

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