Finding the best mutual funds is an increasingly difficult task in a world with so many to choose from. How can you pick with so many choices available?

Don’t Trust Mutual Fund Labels

There are at least 894 different Large Cap Value mutual funds and at least 6,221 mutual funds across twelve styles. Do investors need 518+ choices on average per style? How different can the mutual funds be?

Those 894 Large Cap Value mutual funds are very different. With anywhere from 19 to 734 holdings, many of these Large Cap Value mutual funds have drastically different portfolios, creating drastically different investment implications.

The same is true for the mutual funds in any other style, as each offers a very different mix of good and bad stocks. Large Cap Blend funds rank first for stock selection. Small Cap Value funds rank last. Details on the Best & Worst mutual funds in each style are here.

Paralysis By Analysis

We think the large number of Large Cap Value (or any other) style mutual funds hurts investors more than it helps because too many options can be paralyzing. It is simply not possible for the majority of investors to properly assess the quality of so many mutual funds. Analyzing mutual funds, done with the proper diligence, is far more difficult than analyzing stocks because it means analyzing all the stocks within each mutual fund. As stated above, that can be as many as 734 stocks, and sometimes even more, for one mutual fund.

Any investor focused on fulfilling fiduciary duties recognizes that analyzing the holdings of a mutual fund is critical to finding the best mutual fund. Figure 1 shows our top rated mutual fund for each style.

Figure 1: The Best Mutual Fund in Each Style

NewConstructs_BestStyleMF_3Q16Sources: New Constructs, LLC and company filings

Amongst the mutual funds in Figure 1, Nuveen Concentrated Core Fund (NCARX) ranks first overall, Fidelity SAI U.S. Quality Index (FUQIX) ranks second, and BMO Large-Cap Value Fund (BLCRX) ranks third. Transamerica Mid Cap Value Opportunities (MVTRX) ranks last.

How To Avoid “The Danger Within”

Why do you need to know the holdings of mutual funds before you buy?

You need to be sure you do not buy a fund that might blow up. Buying a fund without analyzing its holdings is like buying a stock without analyzing its business and finances. No matter how cheap, if it holds bad stocks, the mutual fund’s performance will be bad. Don’t just take my word for it, see what Barron’s says on this matter.


If Only Investors Could Find Funds Rated by Their Holdings…

Our mutual fund ratings leverage our stock coverage. We rate mutual funds based on the aggregated ratings of the stocks each mutual fund holds.

Nuveen Concentrated Core Fund (NCARX) is not only the top-rated Large Cap Blend mutual fund, but it is also the overall best fund out of the 6,221 style mutual funds that we cover.

The mutual funds in Figure 1 all receive an Attractive-or-better rating. However, with so few assets in some of the funds, it is clear investors haven’t identified these quality mutual funds.

This article originally published here on August 10, 2016.

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

Click here to download a PDF of this report.

Photo Credit: Chris Hawes (Flickr)

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