Contrarian-investment professionals, including Marty Whitman, David Dreman and Bill Miller, had a tough time last year. Recent market rebounds, however, have helped their contrarian-style funds outperform. This type of investment is "a discipline that's hard for an individual investor to follow," said Russ Kinnel, director of mutual fund research at Morningstar. "It's tough to know when to get in and when, in fact, a stock deserves to be battered."

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