Research by online investment platform rplan.co.uk shows only 35 of the 2,654 funds invested in emerging market stocks and available to UK retail investors delivered a positive performance in the last 12 months.
The analysis reveals a big disparity between different collectives - with a positive return of more than 30% at the top end and a loss of 49% at the bottom - but for the most part performance was poor.
For balance it is worth noting that the MSCI Emerging Market index fell 26% through the same period. Despite such disappointing returns and this negative backdrop, 425 OEICs, investment trusts and ETFs were launched to retail investors in the year to the 22 February.
Top of the tree according to rplan was iShares DJ China Offshore 50 ETF (EXXU), which delivered 31.65%. The fund tracks the performance of an index composed of 50 of the largest companies with their primary operations in China but their stock market listings on exchanges in Hong Kong or the US.
Stuart Dyer, chief investment officer at rplan, says: 'The issues that were key at the end of 2015 still pervade, including the rising dollar, a slowing China and oil in freefall. But once markets get over the uncertain start to the year it should refocus on the core data, which should stabilise in the coming weeks.
'It is important that investors do not over-react to short term volatility and maintain a medium to longer term perspective regarding their portfolios.'