How to Avoid the Worst Style Mutual Funds

13916513887_acd3c21ae7_z
Share with your friends










Submit

Why are there so many mutual funds? The answer is: because mutual fund providers are making lots of money selling them. The number of mutual funds has little to do with serving investors’ best interests. Below are three red flags investors can use to avoid the worst mutual funds:

  1. Inadequate Liquidity

This is the easiest issue to avoid, and our advice is simple: Avoid all mutual funds with less than $100 million in assets. Low levels of liquidity can lead to a discrepancy between the price of the mutual fund and the underlying value of the securities it holds. In addition, low asset levels tend to mean lower volume in the mutual fund and large bid-ask spreads.

  1. High Fees

Mutual funds should be cheap, but not all of them are. The first step here is to know what is cheap and expensive.

To ensure you are paying at or below average fees, invest only in mutual funds with total annual costs below 1.98%, which is the total annual costs of the 6387 U.S. equity mutual funds we cover.

Figure 1 shows the most and least expensive style mutual funds in the U.S. equity universe based on total annual costs. American Growth provides two of the most expensive mutual funds while Fidelity mutual funds are among the cheapest.

Figure 1: 5 Least and Most Expensive Style Mutual Funds

Untitled

Sources: New Constructs, LLC and company filings

However, investors need not pay high fees for good holdings. Ultimus Managers Blue Current Global Dividend Fund (BCGDX) is our highest-rated style mutual fund and earns our Very Attractive rating. It also has low total annual costs of only 1.10%.

On the other hand, no matter how cheap a mutual fund, if it holds bad stocks, its performance will be bad. The quality of a mutual fund’s holdings matters more than its price.

  1. Poor Holdings

Avoiding poor holdings is by far the hardest step, but it is also the most important because a mutual fund’s performance is determined more by its holdings than its costs. Figure 2 shows the mutual funds within each style with the worst holdings or portfolio management ratings.

Figure 2: Style Mutual Funds with the Worst Holdings

Untitled

Sources: New Constructs, LLC and company filings

Vanguard appears more often than any other providers in Figure 2, which means that they offer the most mutual funds with the worst holdings.

Our overall ratings on mutual funds are based primarily on our stock ratings of their holdings. New Constructs covers over 3000 stocks and is known for the due diligence done on each stock we cover.

The Danger Within

Buying a mutual fund without analyzing its holdings is like buying a stock without analyzing its business and finances. Put another way, research on mutual fund holdings is necessary due diligence because a mutual fund’s performance is only as good as its holdings’ performance.

PERFORMANCE OF MUTUAL FUND’s HOLDINGs = PERFORMANCE OF MUTUAL FUND

Disclosure: David Trainer and Kyle Guske II receive no compensation to write about any specific stock, style, or theme.

Photo Credit: Theen Moy (Flickr)

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field