First off, thanks for all your comments
I just poked around some more on S&P's website. And found out in their math of indexes pdf that there are TWO
different S&P 500 index returns.
Price Return, which is on price only.
Total Return, which includes dividends reinvested .
I found a new S&P press release that shows CY 2005 return as 4.91 %. They did not specify which return, but the URL for the document has Total Return in its name.
S&P has added to the confusion by not clearly identifying which return. Many media outlets picked up and distributed the return for 2005 as 3.00%.
So now I know that the return I should compare mutual funds to is the Total Return, which is 4.91% for 2005.
See how quickly things get balled up when people don't label their work?
Here are the Total Returns on their indexes for 2005 (under Index News, click on "Standard and Poor's Reports December Index Returns" in the link below):
EDIT: Shortened URL