Next, it's natural to assess a mutual fund's track record, and to favor those with strong average growth rates. Tread carefully there, though, and look at each year's return, because one unusually strong or weak year can give a fund a somewhat misleadingly positive or negative average. Avoid rushing your dollars into any fund that was a top performer in the past year, too, because that reflects just a thin slice of time.
It's well worth looking into the managers of any managed mutual fund you're considering. See if you can dig up some interviews with them, some annual letters to shareholders, and any coverage of them in the news. Ideally, they will impress you with their candor and you'll like their investing philosophy and approach. Finally, look at a fund's turnover ratio, which reflects how often its managers buy and sell securities. Specifically, a turnover ratio compares the total value of securities bought and sold in a period such as a year or quarter with the total value of all assets in the fund.
What's wrong with that? Well, several things. For starters, it doesn't suggest that the managers had a lot of confidence in what they bought, if they're quickly selling. Also, all that activity can generate trading costs that are passed on to shareholders, and any gains will be fairly likely to be short-term ones, which are generally taxed at a higher rate. Below is a variety of well-regarded, well-performing fund candidates to consider, for any money that you choose to not park in low-fee, broad-market index funds.
They're all "no-load," meaning that they don't levy an up-front sales charge when you buy into them, as many other funds do. For many, if not most, people, index funds are best. Many sport ultra-low fees, which lets you keep most of any gains, and their turnover rates are low, too, as each fund only has to buy and hold the same securities as the index it's tracking. Below are a handful of the many top-notch ones out there. They're in exchange-traded fund ETF form, which means you can buy or sell as little as a single share at any time through the stock market.
Schwab U. It's hard to beat mutual funds for convenience, and the best ones will have your money growing powerfully over many years. Take some time to learn more about mutual funds , so that you can make smart, informed decisions regarding them. Investing Best Accounts. Stock Market Basics. Stock Market. Industries to Invest In. Getting Started. Planning for Retirement. Retired: What Now? Personal Finance.
The Ascent. The focus: Upper Midwest firms of all sizes with durable competitive advantages, trading at bargain prices. The fund tilts toward health care and industrial firms. The process: Five managers run a portion of assets independently. They all look for companies with better growth prospects than their share prices imply. And they buy for the long term: The typical holding period is 10 years.
Smart investors will hold on. The upshot: These proven managers know how to block out the noise. The process: Manager Larry Puglia favors firms with sustainable competitive advantages over rivals, strong cash flow, healthy balance sheets and executives who spend in smart ways. The company's top holding is Amazon. In April, Puglia took on an associate manager, Paul Greene, but says he has no plans to retire. The upshot: Blue Chip Growth was a prime beneficiary of the long bull market, but the fund has held up well since the market crashed.
The process: Manager Tom Huber focuses on large, high-quality companies that generate strong free cash flow cash profits after capital expenditures and have the capacity and willingness to raise their payouts. Rowe Price Dividend Growth, an all-weather portfolio, keeps pace in good markets and holds up well in down markets. The track record: Health care stocks were a boon to the fund in , but it has struggled over the past year, with 2.
The process: Four managers find solid businesses that dominate their industries, generate plenty of cash and are run by executives who spend wisely. The fund will hold on to shares as long as a firm is still growing fast. Shares in large-cap stock Ecolab ECL have been in the fund since And it beat the majority of its peers in six of the past eight calendar years.
Typically, these firms are growing faster than large companies and are less volatile than small businesses. The focus: Growing midsize firms that pass environmental, social and governance ESG measures. The process: Two longtime managers, 18 analysts and a dedicated ESG team pick 40 stocks, with sustainability in mind.
The upshot: The managers have spent the past few months lightening up on sectors vulnerable in a downturn, such as materials, and loading up on health care. Technology is the largest sector allocation at more than a quarter of assets.
The process: Financially sound firms with a competitive edge over rivals and a strong management team make it into the fund. The track record: Small-cap value stocks have been the worst-performing U. But this fund is about on par with the Russell index over the trailing five-year period. PRSVX provides exposure to the some of the best values among smaller companies. The track record: The fund has handily beaten the Russell small-cap stock index over the past one, three, five and 10 years.
The process: This is a growth-ier value fund. The upshot: Despite their recent poor performance, small-cap stocks offer higher growth potential than their large-company brethren. To cash in, you must have a long-term view and be willing to bear some turbulence. The process: Manager Jed Weiss homes in on firms with good growth prospects and strong niches in their businesses that give them pricing power — the ability to hold prices firm in bad times and raise them in good times.
FIGFX tends to hold up well in bad markets. The upshot: Weiss picks stocks one at a time, but he says long-term growth theme are set to propel returns going forward. The track record: Relative to other large-company foreign value stock funds, Global Equity Income shines. It currently yields 7. The upshot: In recent years, the managers have put aside some value measures, such as share price in relation to book value assets minus liabilities , in favor of other gauges, such as the price-to-cash-flow ratio, that they say are better predictors of future returns.
That should help them better identify values going forward. The process: Manager Michael Kass favors profitable, growing firms with steady competitive advantages. The track record: After a decade of sluggish returns, peppered with a few good years such as , emerging-markets stocks got socked again, this time by the coronavirus. The process: Four managers circle the globe to find best-in-class companies. Japan, the U. The process: Eddie Yoon, manager since , divides the portfolio into three parts: steady, growing firms, which make up the biggest chunk of the fund; fast-growing, proven companies with focused niches; and emerging biotech businesses.
The upshot: Yoon is getting defensive, piling into stable growers, while keeping an eye on innovative firms in areas such as gene and cell therapy. The process: Managers focus on large-company, dividend-paying stocks, high-quality government bonds and investment-grade corporate debt. The fund yields 1. The upshot: The managers like a bargain. Before the pandemic, they were waiting for discounts in large banks and consumer names such as Home Depot HD.
Defensive moves on the bond side, such as focusing on the highest-quality corporate debt and setting aside cash for a correction, were well timed. The process: Three managers balance government-guaranteed mortgage-backed bonds — which are sensitive to interest-rate moves when interest rates rise, bond prices fall, and vice versa but have no default risk — with non-agency mortgage bonds, which have some risk of default, but little interest-rate sensitivity.
Aggregate Bond index. The upshot: Mortgage rates dipped to all-time lows in August. And the primary risk for most mortgage-backed bonds is the potential that mortgage holders will prepay their principal. Meanwhile, it yields 2. The focus: Debt that is exempt from federal income taxes, issued by states and counties to fund expenses such as schools and transportation. The process: Four managers choose high-quality, attractively priced muni bonds. Managing risk is a priority, too.
The track record: This fund consistently posts above-average returns in its category. It rarely tops the charts, but it tends to hold up better in downturns. But low rates and steady demand has propped prices back up. The fund yields 0. The process: Longtime manager John Carlson has retired, but his replacements, Jonathan Kelly and Timothy Gill, are longtime analysts for the fund.
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