American Funds sells mutual funds you could bring home to meet your parents: the funds are always described with words like "steady," "solid," and "dependable." In the late 1990s, when the bull market was roaring, steady sounded too much like dull, and sales of American Funds lagged. But in the current climate, with memories of a brutal bear market and mutual fund scandals still fresh in the minds of investors, steady has become sexy. Which goes a long way toward explaining why American Funds is the hottest mutual fund company in the nation. For the third year in a row, American Funds is attracting more money than its competitors by a wide margin. In the first seven months of this year, investors poured $55 billion into the company's funds, well ahead of Vanguard Group, which sold $39 billion worth of funds, and Fidelity Investments at $19 billion.