How We Rate ETFs and Mutual Funds

QUESTION: Why shouldn’t ETF & fund research be as good as stock research? Why should fund investors rely on backward-looking price trends?

ANSWER: They should not.

QUESTION: Why has the traditional, backward-looking fund research dominated the dialogue on funds for so long?

ANSWER: Purveyors of the traditional fund research are extremely good marketers.

QUESTION: How exactly should fund research change to be more like stock research?

ANSWER: A fund is only as good as the stocks it holds. To rate a fund, one must research and rate all of its holdings while also accounting for management costs.

There are two dri­vers of future fund performance:

  1. Stock-picking (Portfolio Management Rating) and
  2. Fund expenses (Total Annual Costs Rating)

Our Predictive Overall Fund Rating is based on these drivers. Then, we rate all funds based on their ranking:

  1. Top 10%  = Very Attractive Rating
  2. Next 20% = Attractive Rating
  3. Next 40% = Neutral Rating
  4. Next 20% = Unattractive Rating
  5. Bottom 10% = Very Unattractive Rating

We analyze every fund holding based on New Constructs’ stock ratings, which are reg­u­larly fea­tured as among the best by Barron’s. Next, we measure and rank the all-in costs of investing in a fund (Total Annual Costs Rating).

Our mutual fund & ETF screener provides ratings and reports on 7400+ funds updated daily.

Figure 1 details the criteria that drive our predictive rating system for funds. The two drivers of our predictive fund rating system are Portfolio Management and Total Annual Costs. The Portfolio Management Rating is the same as our Stock Rating except that we incorporate Asset Allocation  in the Portfolio Management Rating. The Total Annual Costs Rating captures the all-in cost of being in a fund over a 3-yr holding period, the average holding period of all mutual fund investors.

Figure 1 – Predictive Risk/Reward Fund Rating Criteria and Thresholds for US Equity Funds

Source: New Constructs, LLC

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