In the 2007 edition of Dave Ramsey's book The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness (ISBN 978-0-7852-8908-1), on pages xv & xvi, he states the following:
Many intelligent but ignorant people seem to think that making a 12 percent rate of return on your money in a long-term investment is impossible.
He goes on to provide some evidence from his own portfolio:
I purchased a Growth and Income Stock Mutual Fund many years ago, that I still invest in, and it has average 12.78 percent per year since 1934 (72 years as of this writing). I bought another last week that has averaged over 15.43 percent per year since 1959, as of this writing. And yet another with average annual returns of 13.55 percent since 1984, and another averaging 13.51 percent since 1973, and yet another averaging 12.67 percent since 1952. Any decent broker with the heart of a teacher can, in his or her sleep, lead you to funds with long track records averaging over 12 percent.
1934 + 72 = 2006, so presumably he came up with those numbers at some point during 2006.
He never identifies the specific mutual funds--not here, nor anywhere else that I've been able to find. When asked, he refers you to an "Endorsed Local Provider," i.e., to someone who pays Mr. Ramsey for leads.
Given specific numbers, and a specific date range (15.43% per year from 1959 to 2006) it should be possible to determine the exact mutual funds that Mr. Ramsey is referring to. This question is two-fold:
- What mutual funds fit Mr. Ramsey's description?
- What tool did you use to determine this?
One of the challenges I have found is that all the free, online mutual fund performance & rating tools I've reviewed don't look back more than 10 or perhaps 20 years. Additionally, there numbers are always use "today" or "this year" as an endpoint--you can't arbitrarily pick your endpoint.
Note that this answer suggests that perhaps the first fund (12.78% per year) is The Investment Company of America® (growth-and-income fund) (symbol AIVSX for Class A, or front-loaded, shares, which is what Mr. Ramsey recommends). The numbers don't quite align, but the question uses numbers Mr. Ramsey provided during 2012, so you would expect them to be slightly different.