Top Performing Tax Free Municipal Bond Mutual Funds 2011

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Non Taxable bond mutual fund is also known as Municipal bond fund or tax free bond fund. This bond fund is very popular for investor who seeks interest exempt from federal tax or state tax or local tax. The following top performing funds include Eaton Vance Tax-Advantaged Bond Strategies Long Term, Eaton Vance Tax-Advantaged Bond Strategies Intermediate Term, Lord Abbett AMT Free Municipal Bond, PIMCO Tax Managed Real Return, and more.

Muni Bond Funds

Bonds or fixed incomes should be part of asset diversification for every investor. Bonds have enjoyed the longest bull market for the past two decade. In general, bonds can be categorized into 2 classes: tax free bonds or muni bonds and taxable bonds. Investing in bonds can be done through mutual funds, exchange traded funds, and individual bonds. Bond mutual funds are among the popular vehicle for investment. There several reasons to invest in bond funds:
  • It provides instant diversification in various bonds
  • Investor has instant access to experienced manager(s)
  • It provides regular income
  • It can participate in limited capital appreciation with less volatility

Top Performing Funds

Muni Bond fund is mutual fund consists of various municipal bonds. This bond income is usually tax exempt from federal tax rate and possible state tax or local tax. The most popular one is diversified national municipal bond fund. This type of fund usually consists of bonds from variety of municipalities such as California, Texas, New Jersey, New York, Minnesota, Illinois, etc. More details about this Muni bond fund on my previous article. Other alternative is to invest in Best Municipal bond closed end fund.

Top Performing Tax Free Municipal Bond Mutual Funds 2011The following list is sorted based on the fund’s YTD performance. These Municipal bond funds are part of national municipal bond funds (i.e. no single state Muni). The funds can be classified either as short term Muni, intermediate term Muni, long term Muni, and high yield Muni.

Best performing municipal bond mutual funds of 2013 are:
  1. Pioneer High Income Municipal fund (PIMAX)
  2. Nuveen High Yield Municipal Bond Fund (NHMAX)
  3. Oppenheimer Rochester National Muni fund (ORNAX)
  4. Oppenheimer AMT-Free Municipals fund (OPTAX)
more can be found on municipal bond fund category.

The 3 best performing municipal bond mutual funds 2012 are:
  1. SEI Tax-Exempt Tax-Advantaged Income Fund
  2. Performance Trust Municipal Bond Fund
  3. Eaton Vance National Municipal Income Fund
The 3 top performer high yield municipal bond mutual funds 2012 are:
  1. Nuveen High Yield Municipal Bond Fund (NHMAX)
  2. Pioneer High Income Municipal Fund (PIMAX)
  3. Oppenheimer AMT-Free Municipals Fund (OPTAX)

Top Performing Tax Free Bond Funds

Six Top Performing National Municipal Bond Mutual Funds May 2011:
  1. Eaton Vance Tax-Advantaged Bond Strategies Long Term A (EALTX)
  2. Eaton Vance Tax-Advantaged Bond Strategies Intermediate Term A (EITAX)
  3. Lord Abbett AMT Free Municipal Bond A
  4. PIMCO Tax Managed Real Return A
  5. TIAA-CREF Tax-Exempt Bond Retail
  6. JPMorgan Tax Aware Real Return A

Eaton Vance Tax-Advantaged Bond Strategies Long Term A

As the top performing funds in Municipal Bond category, this Eaton Vance Tax-Advantaged Bond Strategies Long Term fund seeks after-tax total return. The fund invests >80% of net assets in a diversified portfolio of municipal debts that are exempt from regular federal income tax, direct obligations of the U.S. Treasury and/or obligations of U.S. Government agencies, and GSE. It may invest some of its net assets (<20%) in Municipal Securities rated A at the purchase time.
Eaton Vance Tax-Advantaged Bond Strategies Long Term Fund
EALTX characteristics

Since January 2010, James H. Evans is the lead manager of this Eaton Vance fund. The fund also has the smallest net asset with $2.36 million. The annual expense ratio is 0.95%. As part of load fund, this fund also charge 4.75% front end sales load. There is no management fee. Morningstar hasn’t rated this fund yet since it is relatively new fund. The current yield of this fund is 2.62%.

For 2011 Year-To-Date, this Eaton Vance Tax-Advantaged Bond Strategies Long Term fund has returned 7.40%. If you are interested in lower fee of this fund, you can also invest in other fund classes: Class A Load Waived (EALTX.LW), Class C (EILTX), and Class I (ECLTX). You can purchase this fund from several brokerages like Pershing FundCenter, Fidelity Retail FundNetwork, Raymond James, TD Ameritrade NTF, Ameriprise Brokerage, Waddell & Reed, etc.

As of April 2011, this best muni bond fund portfolio composition is general obligation bonds (37.57%), utility bonds (19.55%), short term / cash (14.78%), education bonds (12.27%), public facilities (4.52%), other revenue bonds (4.53%), transportation bonds (2.02%), and insured bonds (4.77%). The fund also has an average duration of 6.65 years. There are 26 issuers. Top 5 bond issuers include Seattle Wash Wtr Sys Rev, Massachusetts St Wtr Res Auth, Charleston S C Wtrwks & Swr Re, New York St Dorm Auth St Pers, and Colorado Springs Colo Utils.

Eaton Vance Tax-Advantaged Bond Strategies Intermediate Term A

With $50 million net assets, this Eaton Vance Tax-Advantaged Bond Strategies Intermediate Term is the second Eaton Vance fund in this top performers list. This fund objective is to achieve after tax total return. The fund usually invests majority of net assets (>80%) in a diversified portfolio of municipal obligations that are exempt from regular federal income tax. It normally invests in Municipal Securities rated in the two highest rating categories (those rated AA or Aa or higher) at purchase time. This EITAX fund also may invest <30% of net assets in Municipal Securities rated A.
Eaton Vance Tax-Advantaged Bond Strategies Intermediate Term A
Similar to previous Eaton Vance fund, this fund is also managed by James H. Evans since January 2010. Since it is new fund, it hasn’t received Morningstar rating. The fund expense ratio is 0.95% per year. It also has 2.25% sales load. Investor can also invest in other asset classes such as EITAX.LW (No Load Class A), EITCX (Class C), and STIIX (Class I). These classes may offer lower fees. The fund also has distribution rate of 1.3%.

More top performer can be found in my MEPB Financial website.

As of April 2011, this Eaton Vance fund consists of 41 holdings. The fund’s average maturity is 8.17 years and its average duration is 5.59 years. Top 2 sectors of this EV fund include State & Muni Bonds (84.08%), and Cash & Equivalents (15.95%). The top 6 bond holdings include Florida St GO, Gwinnett County GA Sch Dist GO, Massachusetts St Fin Agy (Boston College), Leander TX Sch Dist GO, Cook County IL Sch Dist GO, and Loudoun County VA Water & Sewer Rev.

Lord Abbett AMT Free Municipal Bond A

Lord Abbett AMT Free Municipal Bond A
Lord Abbett AMT Free Muni Bond
This Lord Abbett AMT Free Municipal Bond is part of load muni bond fund. The fund investment is seeking to provide the investor with federal tax exempt income. The fund will focus on investment grade municipal bonds and some opportunities on select non investment grade securities. The fund will avoid bonds subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT). The fund lead manager is Daniel S. Solender.

The fund also has dividend yield of 4.64%. The expense ratio of this Lord Abbett fund is 0.50% per year. It also has 0.20% management fee and 2.25% sales load fee. As one of the new fund, it doesn’t have any Morningstar rating. To invest in this fund, you will need $1,000 minimum investment. This fund is opened to any investors. It is also categorized as Muni National Long Bond fund.

Hence this LATAX fund is part of load fund as well; you can also select other classes to find better investment choice with lower fees. The other classes are: Class C (LATCX), Class F (LATFX), and Class I (LMCIX).

The top 10 sectors in this fund portfolio as of May 2011 are healthcare / hospital, insured bond, transportation, education, IDR/PCR, lease, special tax, GO local, water & sewer, tobacco, and VRDN. This Lord Abbett AMT Free Municipal Bond consists of 199 bonds. The fund has a modified duration of 8.7 years and an average coupon of 5.1%.

PIMCO Tax Managed Real Return A

PIMCO Tax Managed Real Return Fund
PTXAX fund details
As one the largest taxable bond fund (PIMCO Total Return Bond), PIMCO also offers Muni bond funds for investor. This PIMCO Tax Managed Real Return fund objective is to provide after-tax inflation-protected return, consistent with prudent investment management.

The fund invests >50% of assets in debt securities whose interest is exempt from federal income tax and the rest of assets are invested in inflation-indexed bonds of varying maturities issued by the U.S. government and its agencies. This fund may use forwards or derivatives such as options, futures contracts or swap agreements (such as CPI swaps) to enhance the fund performance.

Since October 2009, this top performing municipal bond fund has been managed by John Cummings. The fund net assets are $41.25 million. The annual expense ratio is 0.85%. This fund also has 3.75% front end sales load and 0.25% 12b1 fee. Since it is relatively new fund, Morningstar hasn’t rated this fund yet. The dividend yield of this fund is 1.43%.

For 2011 Year-To-Date, this PIMCO Tax Managed Real Return fund has returned 5.03%. Other classes of this PIMCO fund are Class C (PXMCX), Class D (PXMDX), Institutional Class (PTMIX), and Class P (PTMPX). PTTAX can be purchased from 18 brokerages like JPMorgan, Pershing FundCenter, Schwab RPS, Raymond James, Thrivent Advisory Eligible, Scottrade, etc.

As of April 2011, it has effective duration of 2.15 years and effective maturity of 5.31 years. The top 5 municipal sectors are State / Local General Obligation, Special Tax, Education Revenue, Water & Sewer, and Power Revenue.

TIAA-CREF Tax-Exempt Bond Retail

As part of no load fund, the TIAA-CREF Tax-Exempt Bond fund is seeking a high level of tax free current income from regular federal income tax, consistent with preservation of capital. The fund invests most of assets (>80%) in tax-exempt bonds (i.e. municipal bonds). It also invests <20% of assets in private activity bonds. The fund may invest some of assets (<20%) in below investment-grade securities or junk bonds.
TIAA-CREF Tax-Exempt Bond Retail
TIXRX fund characteristics

Peter Scola is the fund lead manager. The fund also has dividend yield of 3.52%. The expense ratio of this TIAA-CREF fund is 0.49% per year. This fund also receives 4 stars rating from Morningstar. The minimum initial investment is $2,500 for brokerage account. This fund is opened to any investors. It is also categorized as Muni National Intermediate Bond fund. The turnover rate is 49%.

The top 7 sectors in this fund portfolio as of April 2011 are general obligation (32%), misc revenue (20%), education (12%), water/waste (12%), transportation (10%), health (4%), and industrial (3.8%). This consists of 248 holdings. The fund has an option-adjusted duration of 6.95 years and an average maturity of 9.1 years.

JPMorgan Tax Aware Real Return A

With $3,118 net assets, this JPMorgan Tax Aware Real Return fund is one of the largest funds in this top performing municipal bond mutual funds list. This JPMorgan investment fund seeks to maximize after-tax inflation protected return. The fund usually invests in municipal bonds. It also seeks after tax return through investment in derivative instrument such as inflation-linked swaps.

Currently this JPMorgan mutual fund manager is Deepa D. Majmudar. The fund’s annual expense ratio is 0.74%. As part of load fund, this municipal bond mutual fund also charge 3.75% front end sales load. There is also 0.25% 12b1 fee. Morningstar gave 1 star rating for this fund. The current yield of this fund is 2.38%. The fund has 675 bonds in its holding. The fund average effective duration is 2.87 years. The average credit quality of this fund is AA (investment grade).

Other classes of this fund include Class C (TXRCX), Select Class (TXRSX), and Institutional Class (TXRIX)

Franklin Federal Tax-Free Income A

Franklin Federal Tax-Free Income fund objective is to achieve high level of income exempt from federal income taxes as is consistent with prudent investment management and the preservation of shareholders' capital. The fund usually invests most of its assets (>80%) in investment grade municipal bonds. The fund also may invest in insured municipal obligations and municipal lease debts.

The fund has returned -3.50% over the past year and 2.81% over the past five years. For this ticker, FKTIX, it currently has a max front end sales load of 4.25% and max 12b1 fee of 0.09%. The total expense ratio is currently at 0.61% per year.  Other tickers may not have these fees and has a lower expense ratio fees such as FFTBX, FRFTX and FAFTX. For ticker, FAFTX, there is no front end sales load and 12b1 fee. FAFTX also only has 0.52% annual expense ratio.

Disclosure: No Position

Muni Bond Fund Information

NoFund NameTickerRatingYieldYTD ReturnExpense RatioLoadNet Assets (mil)Min to Invest
1Eaton Vance Tx-Advntgd Bd Strat Lg Trm AEALTXN/A2.62%7.40%0.95%4.75%$3 $1,000
2Eaton Vance TxAdvtg Bd Strat IntermTrm AEITAXN/A1.30%5.67%0.96%2.25%$50 $1,000
3Lord Abbett AMT Free Municipal Bond ALATAXN/AN/A5.12%0.50%2.25%$40 $1,000
4PIMCO Tax Managed Real Return APTXAXN/A1.43%5.03%0.85%3.75%$41 $1,000
5TIAA-CREF Tax-Exempt Bond RetailTIXRX43.52%4.86%0.49%0.00%$301 $2,500
6JPMorgan Tax Aware Real Return ATXRAX12.38%4.73%0.74%3.75%$3,118 $1,000
7Northern Tax-ExemptNOTEX43.77%4.69%0.75%0.00%$952 $2,500
8ActivePassive Intermediate Muni Bond AAPMUX12.49%4.67%1.00%5.75%$16 $1,000
9Franklin Federal Tax-Free Income AFKTIX34.47%4.61%0.61%4.25%$10,310 $1,000
10State Farm Tax Advantaged Bond ATANAX43.36%4.61%0.68%3.00%$256 $250
11BlackRock Municipal Inv AMDMIX34.65%4.54%0.72%4.25%$708 $1,000
12Oppenheimer AMT-Free Municipals AOPTAX17.13%4.52%0.94%4.75%$2,056 $1,000

Fund Performance (2013)

NoFund DescriptionTickerRatingExpense Ratio3-Year Return %5-Year Return %
1Bernstein Diversified MunicipalSNDPX50.563.94.47
2USAA Tax Exempt Intermediate-TermUSATX50.546.466.48
3Wells Fargo Advantage S/T Muni Bd InvSTSMX50.632.513.46
4Vanguard High-Yield Tax-ExemptVWAHX50.27.366.68
5T. Rowe Price Summit Municipal IncPRINX50.57.376.97
6Wells Fargo Advantage Municipal Bond InvSXFIX50.787.727.45
7Wells Fargo Advantage Interm T/AmtF InvSIMBX50.736.055.88
8SEI Tax-Exempt Tax-Advantaged Income ASEATX50.878.567.16
9GuideMark Tax-Exempt Fixed Inc ServiceGMTEX51.295.525.48
10BNY Mellon Municipal Opportunities InvMOTIX50.938.07N/A
11American Funds Tax-Exempt Bond AAFTEX40.556.776.14
12Vanguard Interm-Term Tx-Ex InvVWITX40.25.515.83
updated on 3/25/2013

Top Performing Precious Metals Mutual Funds May 2011: Gold

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Hard assets are essential during this economic uncertainty period. Investing in gold and silver can provide a tools for investor to combat inflation or deflation threat. Using mutual funds, investor can find some of the top performer precious metals mutual funds such as: Vanguard Precious Metals and Mining Inv, Tocqueville Gold, etc

Top Performer Precious Metals Funds
Intro

Investing in equity precious metals funds should be part of every investor’s strategy. Precious Metals funds have been the only bright spot during the market downturn period. While financial crisis has passed, no one can predict when another one will occur. Rule of thumb is to have 5-10% asset in these commodity funds for asset diversification.

The following is the top performing equity precious metals mutual funds up to May 2011. Most of these funds have returned amazing performance return for the past decade. For YTD performance, these equity precious metals funds have been lagging the overall market performance.

The 10 Top Performing Equity Precious Metals Funds 2011 (up to May 2011):
  1. Vanguard Precious Metals and Mining Inv
  2. Tocqueville Gold
  3. First Eagle Gold A
  4. Invesco Gold & Precious Metals A
  5. OCM Gold Investor
  6. Fidelity Select Gold
  7. Fidelity Advisor Gold A
  8. Wells Fargo Advantage Precious Metals A
  9. Van Eck Intl Investors Gold A
  10. Oppenheimer Gold & Special Minerals A

NoFund DescriptionTickerYieldMorningstar RatingNet Assets (Mil) Expense RatioMin to Invest
1Vanguard Precious Metals and Mining InvVGPMX4.06%2$5,800 0.27%$3,000
2Tocqueville GoldTGLDX0.00%5$2,600 1.34%$1,000
3First Eagle Gold ASGGDX1.97%5$3,300 1.22%$2,500
4Invesco Gold & Precious Metals AIGDAX2.92%4$644 1.29%$1,000
5OCM Gold InvestorOCMGX0.00%3$186 1.93%$1,000
6Fidelity Select GoldFSAGX0.00%3$5,000 0.89%$2,500
7Fidelity Advisor Gold AFGDAX0.00%3$5,000 1.14%$2,500
8Wells Fargo Advantage Precious Metals AEKWAX4.21%4$1,400 1.05%$1,000
9Van Eck Intl Investors Gold AINIVX7.81%4$1,700 1.25%$1,000
10Oppenheimer Gold & Special Minerals AOPGSX8.75%3$4,500 1.06%$1,000
11River Source Precious Metals and Mining AINPMX3.28%3$178 1.43%$2,000
12USAA Precious Metals and Mining AUSAGX1.42%4$2,300 1.19%$3,000
13GAMCO Gold AGLDAX3.32%3$701 1.44%$1,000
14American Century Global Gold AACGGX5.51%2$1,200 0.94%$2,500
15Dynamic Gold & Precious Metals IDWGOX0.15%N/A$46 1.25%$10,000
16BlackRock World Gold Investor ABWGAX0.00%N/A$10 1.49%$1,000
17DWS Gold & Precious Metals ASGDAX5.63%2$577 1.42%$1,000
18Rydex Precious Metals ARYMNX0.04%2$190 1.52%$2,500
19U.S. Global Investors Gold and Precious MetalsUSERX1.25%3$289 1.80%$5,000
20Franklin Gold and Precious Metals AFKRCX10.47%3$3,700 0.95%$1,000

updated on May 27th, 2011

Harbor Commodity Real Return Strategy Fund (HACMX)

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The following Harbor Commodity Real Return Strategy fund is sub advised by PIMCO (Pacific Investment Management Company LLC). This Harbor fund is categorized as commodities broad basket fund. This alternative fund has become popular with the rising of commodities price. This fund is essentially very similar to PIMCO fund, PIMCO Commodity Real Return Strategy Fund (Ticker: PCRAX), except its lower fee. This fund is part of no load mutual fund (i.e. no sales load). The fund is featured in Kiplinger 25 Best mutual funds. More details about the fund performance can be found in my Kip 25 page.

Harbor Commodity Real Return Strategy Fund (Ticker: HACMX)

The Harbor Commodity Real Return Strategy Fund is looking for maximum real return, consistent with prudent investment management. This fund invests in commodity-linked derivative instruments. These instruments backed by a portfolio of inflation-indexed securities and other fixed-income instruments. There is also a possibility of investing in preferred and common stocks, as well as investing in convertible securities of issuers in commodity-related industries. Around 30% of its asset is invested in securities with foreign denominated currencies. This non-diversified fund may also invest in U.S. dollar denominated securities of foreign issuers.
Fund Details
Harbor Commodity Real Return Strategy Fund (HACMX)
Harbor fund
  • Fund Inception Date: September 2008
  • Ticker Symbol: HACMX
  • CUSIP: 411511397
  • Beta (3yr): N/A
  • Rank in category (YTD): 45
  • Net Assets: $282 million
  • Category: Commodities Broad Basket
  • Yield: 7.46%
  • Capital Gains:  N/A
  • Number of Years Up: 2 years
  • Number of Years Down: 0 years
updated on 5/29/2011

Best Performer Moderate Allocation Mutual Funds 2011 Pt 2

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This next article will provide the other five top performer moderate allocation balanced mutual funds. If you are interested for the first article, please check my first article here. As discussed before, balanced fund is suitable for buy and hold investor.

Balanced fund may invest in stocks (equities), bonds (fixed incomes), money market, cash, preferred stocks, and convertible bonds. Different funds may have different strategies. Some may even use derivatives or futures to enhance their fund performance. The funds are called moderate allocation funds if the funds have higher stock portion (about 50%-70%).

The following top performer funds are rated based on their year to date fund performance (up to May 17th, 2011). For details about fund performance can be found on my previous article.

The best performer moderate allocation mutual funds are:
  1. JHancock3 Leveraged Companies A
  2. Bruce
  3. PIMCO All Asset A
  4. Transamerica Balanced A
  5. SAAT Defensive Strategy Allocation A
  6. The Montecito
  7. America First Quantitative Strategies A
  8. Intrepid Capital
  9. RiverNorth Core Opportunity (RNCOX)
  10. Columbia Thermostat A (CTFAX)
  11. Arrow DWA Balanced A (DWAFX)
  12. Vanguard Asset Allocation Inv (VAAPX)
  13. DWS Select Alternative Allocation A (SELAX)

Best Performer Moderate Allocation funds

updated on May 17th, 2011

T. Rowe Price Equity Income Fund (PRFDX)

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As part of 2011 Money 70 fund list and 2011 Kiplinger’s 25 best funds list, T Rowe Price Equity Income fund is popular among retail and institutional investor. This fund has total net assets of $23.3 billion. One of the negative is it was rated 4 on a scale of 1 to 5 (1= best and 5=worst) in the fund’s Value Line Overall Rank. Value Line Overall Rank is a measure of risk-adjusted performance and relative growth in fund returns. Also, this T Rowe Price fund is US domestic large value fund. More details about this fund can be found below including the fund information, performance, characteristic, etc.

T. Rowe Price Fund

T. Rowe Price Equity Income fund objective is to seek for capital growth in long term period and to provide substantial dividend income. The major net assets investment is invested in common stocks. The 65% of the companies in which the common stocks are invested are well-established companies that pay above-average dividends. It mostly invests in U.S. common stocks. This PRFDX fund may also purchase other securities such as foreign stocks, options and futures.

Fund Details
T. Rowe Price Equity Income PRFDX | Best US Stock Fund
T Rowe Price Equity Income fund
  • Fund Inception Date: October 1985
  • Ticker Symbol: PRFDX
  • CUSIP: 779547108
  • Total Assets: $23.3 billion
  • Beta (3yr): 1.08
  • Rank in category: 71
  • Category: Large Value
  • Yield: 1.72%
  • Capital Gains: 0.0%
  • Number of Years Up: 22 years
  • Number of Years Down: 3 years
updated on May 22th, 2011

New feature on MEPB Financial

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I added the World Market Snapshot Index to my main blog. These indexes are located on the right side of this blog. The indexes will be updated automatically. The market indexes include:

America
1. Dow Jones Industrial Average (USA)
2. S&P 500 Index (USA)
3. NASDAQ Composite (USA)
4. S&P/TSX Composite (Canada)

Europe
5. EURO STOXX 50 Index (Europe)
6. FTSE 100 Index (UK)

Asia
7. Nikkei 225 Index (Japan)
8. Hang Seng Index (Hong Kong)
9. S&P/ASX 200 Index (Australia)

More update in near future, please check back often. As of 2012, I moved this feature to about me page

15 Top Performer Large Cap Growth Mutual Funds May 2011

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Investing can be done through several ways such as mutual fund, exchange traded fund (ETF), closed end fund (CEF), individual stock or bond, certificate of deposit (CD), money market etc.

Large Growth Fund

Some may be riskier than the others. Investing in CD or money market is safer, though the return is limited. Investing in foreign stock may be riskier, though the return can be enormous. Individual investor need to pick and choose the right combination for better investment portfolio. This can be done through diversification into several different classes such as bonds or stocks.

Top Performer Large Cap Growth Mutual Funds May 2011The simplest way to invest is by investing in mutual fund. Mutual fund consists of variety of holdings whether it is stock fund or bond fund or balanced fund (i.e. hybrid fund). Large portion of stock fund usually invest large cap companies fund. This large cap fund is part of US domestic stock fund; it can be divided into three categories such as large growth, large blend, and large value. This article will look into large growth fund.

Large growth fund is a fund whose objective is to achieve appreciation of capital by investing in growth stocks of large capitalization companies. These growth companies usually have significant earnings and revenue growth. The list is compiled from variety of financial websites and magazines such as Morningstar, yahoo finance, Kiplinger, msn money, etc.

Top Performing Mutual Funds

The 15 Top Performer Large Cap Growth Mutual Funds up to May 23th, 2011.
  1. Dynamic US Growth I (DWUGX)
  2. Smith Group Large Cap Core Growth I (BSLGX)
  3. First Investors Select Growth A (FICGX)
  4. GMO US Growth M (GMWMX)
  5. Wells Fargo Advantage Growth Inv (SGROX)
  6. BlackRock Large Cap Growth Inv A (MDLHX)
  7. Biondo Focus Investor
  8. ING BlackRock Large Cap Growth Adv
  9. Geneva Advisors All Cap Growth Retail
  10. Columbia Select Large Cap Growth A
  11. Fidelity Advisor Growth Opportunities A
  12. Legg Mason ClearBridge Aggressive Growth A
  13. Eaton Vance Atlanta Capital Focused Growth A
  14. Fidelity Growth Company
  15. Value Line Larger Companies
Details about the funds information can be found in below table.

Dynamic US Growth I (DWUGX)

As part of DundeeWealth Funds, the Dynamic US Growth fund is the top performing fund in Large Growth category with 13.25% YTD return. This Dynamic US Growth investment seeks long term appreciation of capital. The fund invest most of assets (>80%) in US growth companies equity securities. It may invest in companies of any size such as small and mid capitalization companies. It may have large exposure in one or more economy sectors such as information technology sector.

This large growth stock mutual fund is managed by Noah Blackstein since 2009. This DundeeWealth fund is rather small with $54 million total net assets. As part of no load fund, this fund doesn’t have any front end sales load and deferred sales load. The fund’s expense ratio is 0.90% per year. The fund does charge a 2% fee for redemption or exchanges within 90 days of purchase.

Top Growth Stock Mutual Funds 2012

As of April 2011, the fund has 26 holdings. The fund benchmark is Russell 1000 growth index. The top 4 fund sectors are information technology (49.1%), consumer discretionary (32.6%), health care (10.8%), and consumer staples (7.6%). Top 10 holdings of Dynamic US Growth fund are priceline.com Inc (5.59%), Informatica Corp (5.18%), Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc (5.07%), Juniper Networks Inc (4.95%), Acme Packet Inc (4.88%), EMC Corp (4.87%), Aruba Networks Inc (4.80%), Riverbed Technology Inc (4.28%), Fortinet Inc (4.27%), and Under Armour Inc (4.24%).

Smith Group Large Cap Core Growth I

This Smith Group Large Cap Core Growth fund is another DundeeWealth Funds. This fund’s aim is to provide long term capital appreciation. The fund usually invest majority of assets in US common stocks and other large capitalization companies equity securities with high earning growth rate based on sub advisor judgment.

Smith Group Large Cap Core Growth IJohn D Brim is the current fund manager. This fund is sub advised by Smith Asset Management Group. The fund annual expense ratio is 0.79%. There is no management fee (12b1 fee) and no sales load fee. Investor may need $10,000 initial investment to invest in this fund. This top performer mutual fund has YTD return of 11.15%. Over the past year, it has returned 26.39%. The fund also has 2 stars rating from Morningstar. The fund’s beta (3 years) is 0.92. This fund can be bought from several brokerages such as Pershing FundCenter, JPMorgan, Schwab, Scottrade, TD Ameritrade, Matrix Financial Solutions, etc.

The top 10 industries of this large growth equity fund as of April 2011 are software (7.7%), oil gas & consumable fuels, specialty retail, machinery, energy equipment & services, pharmaceuticals, internet software & services, consumer finance, capital markets, and health care providers & services. The fund weighted average market capitalization of $48.3 billion. The top 10 holdings include Whole Foods Market Inc (3%), MetroPCS Communication Inc (2.8$%), TIBCO Software Inc, Helmerich & Payne Inc, priceline.com Inc, Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc, Check Point Software Technologies Ltd, Limited Brands Inc, Halliburton Co, and Corn Products International Inc.

First Investors Select Growth A (FICGX)

First Investors Select Growth fund is seeking long term capital growth. This fund invests in a portfolio of approximately 40-45 common equities that offers the best potential for earnings growth with the lowest risk of negative earnings surprises according to its fund’s subadviser. This fund is suitable for long term investor with moderate investment risk.

First Investors Select Growth AThe fund has been managed by Eivind Michelle Olsen since March 2009. The expense ratio of this First Investors fund is 1.56% per year and is higher than 1.31% category average. This fund also charges a front end sales load of 5.75%. If you are interested in low fee of this First Investors fund, you can invest in other fund classes include FICGX.lw (load waived class) and FIGBX (Class B). These classes may offer lower fee and slightly higher performance.

Based on load adjusted return, the fund performance is as follow
  • 1 year: 19.95%
  • 3 year: -3.05%
  • 5 year: -1.71%
  • 10 year: 1.21%
The fund best 1 year return occurred in 2003 with 32% return. The worst performance is -41.77% in 2008.
As April 2011, the top sectors of this fund include information technology (23.2%), consumer discretionary (15.9%), health care, financials, energy, industrials, materials, consumer staples, telecommunication service (2.7%), etc. The top 10 security holdings are Apple Inc, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, Express Scripts Inc, Whole Foods Market Inc, BMC Software Inc, Ross Stores Inc, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc, International Business Machines Corp (IBM), Parker Hannafin Corp, and Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc.

GMO US Growth M (GMWMX)

As one of the smallest fund in this Top Performers list, GMO US Growth fund objective is to seek long term growth of capital. The fund will try to outperform its benchmark index, the Russell 100 Growth Index. The fund will invest directly or indirectly in equity investments. Since 2005, Sam Wilderman has been the lead manager of this GMO fund.

Best US Domestic Stock Mutual Funds 2011

This large growth fund has net expense ratio of 0.76% per year. As part of no load fund, there is no sales load. The fund also has a yield of 0.67%. The fund annual holdings turnover is 61%. It also receives 4 stars rating from Morningstar. The fund has returned 5.66% over the past 3 year, and 3.37% over the past 5 year. Only limited brokerages offer this fund such as CommonWealth PPS, Fidelity Institutional FundsNetwork, Thrivent Advisory Eligible, etc.
As November 2010, the fund top 8 holdings include Apple Inc (6.49%), GMO US Treasury (4.43%), Exxon Mobil Corp, PepsiCo Inc, Johnson & Johnson, Google Inc, International Business Machines, Microsoft Corp, and Procter & Gamble Co.

Wells Fargo Advantage Growth Inv (SGROX)

This is one of two highest rated funds in this Top Performing Funds list, Wells Fargo Advantage Growth fund received 5 stars rating from Morningstar. This Wells Fargo Advantage Growth fund seeks long term appreciation of capital. The fund usually invest more than 80% of total assets in equity securities and <25% of total assets in foreign issuers equity securities (ADRs). The fund will invest in companies with prospect for robust and sustainable growth of revenues & earnings. This fund may use futures, options or swap agreement, and derivatives to enhance return and to manage investment risk.

Wells Fargo Advantage Growth FundThis large growth stock fund is managed by Thomas Ognar since 2002. The fund total net asset is $4.66 billion. It also has an annual expense ratio of 1.36%. This investor class fund doesn’t have any load fee. Other classes of this fund are Class A (SGRAX), Class A with Waived load (SGRAX.LW), Class C (WGFCX) , Institutional Class (SGRNX), and Administrator Class (SGRKX). Some of these classes may charge lower expense fee, please check with your fund brokerage for details.

To invest in this Wells Fargo Advantage fund, you will need $2,500 minimum initial investment for brokerage account. The fund YTD return is 10.39%. The fund has returned 35.77% over the past year, and 12.51% over the past 3 year. This fund also has an outstanding performance over the long term period. The fund returned 5.98% over the past decade. The best performance was achieved in 1999 with 75.06%.

The fund top 10 holdings are Apple Inc (5.23%), Praxair Inc (2.64%), NII Holdings Inc (2.25%), CarMax Inc (2.21%), Alexion Pharmaceutical Inc (2.19%), St Jude Medical Inc, priceline.com Inc, Tractor Supply Co, Agilent Technologies Inc, and Pioneer Natural Resources Co (1.73%). The top 6 sectors include information technology (36.11%), consumer discretionary (19.47%), health care (13.01%), industrials (7.67%), energy (7.45%), and financials (4.40%).

BlackRock Large Cap Growth Inv A (MDLHX)

BlackRock Large Cap Growth FundBlackRock Large Cap Growth investment objective is to achieve capital growth over long term period. The majority of fund assets are invested in equity securities included in the Russell 1000 Growth Index. This fund is a feeder fund that invests all of its assets in Master Growth Portfolio, a series of Master Large Cap Series llc having the same investment objective and strategy as the fund.

Since October 2010, the fund manager is Peter Stournaras. This Class A fund does charge a front end sales load of 5.25%. The annual expense ratio of this fund is 1.31%. The fund has returned 3.76% over the past three years and 2.93% over the past decade.
You can also invest in other classes of this BlackRock fund:
  • Investor B: MBLHX
  • Investor C: MCLHX
  • Class R: MRLHX
  • Institutional Class: MALHX
  • Service Class: MSLHX
  • Retirement K Class: MKLHX
As of May 2011, the fund top holdings are Exxon Mobil Corp, Philip Morris International Inc, Apple Inc, Intel Corp, DirecTV, Dell Inc, Applied Materials Inc, Lockheed Martin Corp, Altera Corp, and Amerisourcebergen Corp. The top 8 sectors of this BlackRock fund are information technology (36.1%), consumer discretionary (15.&%), health care, industrials, energy, materials, consumer staples, and telecommunication (2%).

Columbia Select Large Cap Growth A (ELGAX)

The Columbia Select Large Cap Growth fund is seeking long-term appreciation of capital. The fund most of the time invests >80% of net assets in common stocks of U.S. and foreign companies with market capitalizations in the range of companies in the Russell 1000 Growth Index at the time of purchase. The fund may not concentrate its assets in any single industry but may invest >25% of assets in companies in the health care and technology sectors, respectively. It may invest in derivatives, futures, options, forwards, swap contract to enhance the portfolio value.

This domestic stock fund is managed by Thomas Galvin since February 2003. You will need $2,000 initial investment to invest in this Columbia fund. The expense ratio of this Columbia Select Large Cap Growth fund is 1.26%. It also charges 5.75% front end sales load. To invest in no load fund of this fund, please check other classes such as Class C (ELGCX), Class R (URLGX), Class Z (UMLGX), Inst Class (CSPIX), and Other Class (CSLWX).

Morningstar rated 3 stars rating for this Columbia fund. Based on load adjusted return, the fund has returned 23.90% over the past one year, and 6.27% over the past 5 year.

As of May 2011, the fund top 15 holdings include Amazon, Baidu, Salesforce, Franklin Resources, Cognizant Techonolgy Solutions, Allergan, EMC, Medco Health, Qualcomm, Precision Castparts, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc, Priceline, F5 networks, Novo Nordisk A/S, and Celgene.

Fidelity Growth Company (FDGRX)

This fund may be closed to new investor. If you have invested in this fund, you can continue investing as usual. The Fidelity Growth Company fund seeks capital appreciation. The fund invests primarily in common stocks such as domestic and foreign companies. It usually invests in above-average growth potential companies. The fund is managed by Steven S. Wymer since 1997. The annual expense ratio is 0.89%. This fund has total net assets of 41.8 billion.

Fidelity Growth CompanyThe fund has returned 25.11% over the past year and 6.94% over the past 5 years. There is no Front End Sales Load and no 12b1 fee for this actively managed fund. The fund has its best 1 year return in 1999 with 79.48%. Morningstar awards 4 stars rating for this Fidelity fund.

As of April 2011, the top 6 largest major market sectors include Information Technology, Health Care, Consumer Discretionary, Energy, Industrials, and Consumer Staples sector. Top 10 largest equity holdings of this fund are Apple Inc, Salesforce.com Inc, Exxon Mobil Corp, Google Inc, Red Hat Inc, Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc, Discover Financial Services, Lululemon Athletica Inc, Qualcomm Inc, and Schlumberger Ltd.

Disclosure: No Position

Fund Information

NoFund NameTickerYTD ReturnRatingNet Assets (mil)Expense RatioLoadMin to Invest
1Dynamic US Growth IDWUGX13.25%N/A$54 0.90%0.00%$10,000
2Smith Group Large Cap Core Gr IBSLGX11.15%2$48 0.79%0.00%$10,000
3First Investors Select Growth AFICGX10.84%1$246 1.56%5.75%$1,000
4GMO US Growth MGMWMX10.51%4$3 0.76%0.00%N/A
5Wells Fargo Advantage Growth InvSGROX10.39%5$4,800 1.40%0.00%$2,500
6BlackRock Large Cap Growth Inv AMDLHX10.30%3$804 1.31%5.25%$1,000
7Biondo Focus InvestorBFONX9.95%N/A$28 3.05%0.00%$1,000
8ING BlackRock Large Cap Growth AdvIMLGX9.63%3$392 1.40%0.00%N/A
9Geneva Advisors All Cap Growth RetailGNVRX9.38%5$129 1.50%0.00%$1,000
10Columbia Select Large Cap Growth AELGAX9.34%3$5,311 1.26%5.75%$2,000
11Fidelity Advisor Growth Opportunities AFAGAX8.41%1$1,900 0.90%5.75%$2,500
12Legg Mason ClearBridge Aggressive Gr ASHRAX8.40%2$5,500 1.29%5.75%$1,000
13Eaton Vance Atlanta Capital Focused Gr AEAALX8.20%3$71 1.25%5.75%$1,000
14Fidelity Growth CompanyFDGRX8.12%4$41,800 0.89%0.00%$2,500
15Value Line Larger CompaniesVALLX7.73%3$212 0.92%0.00%$1,000

PRIMECAP Odyssey Growth Fund (POGRX)

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Similar to previous Fidelity Contrafund, PrimeCap Odyssey Growth fund is part of Kiplinger’s Best fund and part of large cap growth fund. This fund also received variety of awards such as B rating from The Street and 5 stars S&P Overall Ranking. The fund is rated 4 stars by Morningstar. This fund is ideal for conservative investor, moderate investor, and retiree. Rule of thumb is to have 20-30% of total assets in this type of US Domestic Large Cap fund for portfolio diversification.

PRIMECAP Odyssey Growth (Ticker: POGRX)

The Primecap Odyssey Growth fund is seeking for long term capital appreciation. The majority of fund assets are invested in stocks of U.S. companies. The fund investment priority is to invest in the companies with above average earnings growth potential that is not reflected in their current market prices even though they provide little current income. The majority of the portfolio is dominated by mid- cap stocks (1/3 of portfolio) and large-cap stocks and as well foreign companies’ stocks.

POGRX Fund Details

  • Fund Inception Date: November 2004
  • Ticker Symbol: POGRX
  • CUSIP: 74160Q103
  • Total Assets: $1.9 billion
  • Beta (3yr): 1.02
  • Rank in category: 4
  • Category: Large Growth
  • Yield: 0.08%
  • Capital Gains: 0.04% (last distributed in 2007)
  • Number of Years Up: 5 years
  • Number of Years Down: 1 year
  • Turnover Rate: 4.9%
updated on May 21th, 2011

This fund is managed by Howard B. Schow since its inception in November 2004. Schow is also the chairman and co-founder of this Primecap Management Company. The minimum balance to invest in this fund is $2,000 for regular brokerage account and $1,000 for IRA account. Both accounts require $150 for the minimum subsequent investment.

As part of no load fund, there is no 12b1 fee as well as no sales-load fee charged for the investor of this fund. The POGRX fund has a low annual expense ratio of 0.68% and the average annual expense ratio for the large-growth category is 1.31%. This POGRX fund has one of the lowest annual holdings turnover (4.93%) compared to the average turnover in the category (88.38%).

The comparison of the positive achievement of this fund versus the negative achievement is 5:1. The best 1-year total return was achieved in 2009 with 40.95% and the worst fund performance was in 2008 with -34.25%. POGRX has 4-stars rating from Morningstar. As May 2011, this PrimeCap fund has a 6.30% of year-to-date return. This best stock fund has returned 14.98% over the past year and 4.97% over the past five years.

How to Invest

You can invest in this POGRX fund by trading or investing at 51 brokerages includes Firstrade, Schwab Retail, JP Morgan, Vanguard, Ameriprise Brokerage, ETrade No Load Fee, Scottrade TF, HDVest-Wells Fargo, Fidelity Institutional FundsNetwork, TRUSTlynx, etc. Please check my best brokerages post for brokerage comparison.

The fund asset is allocated as follow US Stock (82.97%), Non US stock (11.5%), and cash (5.53%). As April 2011, the top 10 stock holdings of this fund are Roche Holding AG, Amgen Inc, Seattle Genetics Inc, Immunogen Inc, Dendreon Corporation, Altera Corporation, Cepheid, Google Inc, Medtronic Inc, and Electronic Arts Inc. The top 5 sectors in this fund are Healthcare (35.40%), Technology (29.6%), Industrials (12.2%), Energy (7.4%), and Consumer Cyclical (6.4%).

Disclosure: No Position

LowTrades Brokerage Review

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LowTrades is another online internet stock broker with low commission fee, $4.95 per trade. Investor can trade ETFs (exchange traded fund), stocks, mutual funds, and options. Several reasons to choose LowTrades are:
  • LowTrades’ commission rates are among the lowest among its brokerage competitors.
  • It provides quality executions for your trading experience.
  • It offers variety of trading tools including Level 2 quote, logical orders, streaming quote, etc
  • It offers account protection since it is a member of SIPC and FINRA. It also provides additional protection through its clearing firm, Legent Clearing under Lloyd’s of London for securities and cash in addition of SIPC coverage. Also, it provides 100% encryption technology for your account information, trading, etc.
LowTrades Logo
Cons of LowTrades:
  • It charges semiannual inactivity fee
  • Doesn’t have any software platform or mobile platform
  • Doesn’t offer future or forex tradings
  • Mutual fund trades can only be done through broker
Details about LowTrades review and products on Best Brokerages Review 2011 page.

Top Performer Moderate Allocation Balanced Funds 2011

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If you are interested in set and forget it mutual fund (i.e. buy and hold fund), you should considered the following balanced funds. Balanced funds or hybrid funds are investment vehicle which invest in stocks (equities), bonds (fixed incomes), preferred stocks, convertible bonds, and money market.

Top Performer Moderate Allocation funds 2011
These balanced funds can be classified into several categories such as conservative allocation (higher bond component), moderate allocation (higher stock component), and world allocation (include foreign stock/bond component). These hybrid funds are suitable to investors who are looking for a mixture of income, safety, and some capital appreciation.

This article will look into the top performer moderate allocation balanced funds up to May 2011. The fund is sorted based on its performance up to May 2011. These moderate allocation balanced funds usually have about 30-50% fixed income component and 50%-70% equity component. Most of the stock portions are invested in large cap company with dividend yield.

  1. JHancock3 Leveraged Companies A (JVCAX)
  2. Bruce fund (BRUFX)
  3. PIMCO All Asset A (PASAX)
  4. Transamerica Balanced A (IBALX)
  5. SAAT Defensive Strategy Allc A (STDAX)
  6. The Montecito (MONAX)
  7. America First Quantitative Strategies A (AFIAX)
  8. Intrepid Capital (ICMBX)
  9. RiverNorth Core Opportunity
  10. Columbia Thermostat A
  11. Arrow DWA Balanced A
  12. Vanguard Asset Allocation Inv
  13. DWS Select Alternative Allocation A

NoFund DescriptionTickerYieldMorningstar RatingNet Assets (Mil)Expense RatioMin to Invest
1JHancock3 Leveraged Companies AJVCAX0.98%N/A$2 1.35%$2,500
2BruceBRUFX3.86%5$299 0.88%$1,000
3PIMCO All Asset APASAX6.93%5$22,520 0.83%$1,000
4Transamerica Balanced AIBALX2.12%3$411 1.56%$1,000
5SAAT Defensive Strategy Allc ASTDAX4.00%3$10 0.10%$100,000
6The MontecitoMONAX2.26%2$14 1.19%$2,500
7America First Quantitative Strategies AAFIAX2.54%1$61 1.59%$1,000
8Intrepid CapitalICMBX1.12%5$358 1.45%$2,500
updated on May 17th, 2011


Note: For funds performance, please check table below. If you are interested in conservative allocation balanced fund, please check my previous article.

Fidelity Contrafund (FCNTX) Fund

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This next fund, Fidelity Contrafund, is part of growth fund and one of Kiplinger’s 25 best funds. Growth funds can be classified into Large Growth, Mid Growth, Small Growth, and Foreign Growth. Fidelity Contrafund is part of Large Growth fund. Large growth fund usually invests in large capitalization companies (i.e. company with $10 billion or higher capitalization).

Rule of thumb is to invest about 20-30% of asset in this large cap fund. This type of fund is suitable for investor seeking capital growth, moderate investor, conservative investor, aggressive investor, etc.

Fidelity Contrafund (Ticker: FCNTX)

Fidelity Contrafund fund objective is to achieve the capital appreciation. This Fidelity fund will invest most of its net assets in common stocks either domestic or foreign issuers. It may invest in companies that pass the qualification of Fidelity Management & Research Company (FMR) even though those companies are not fully recognized by the public. The fund management team has few criteria in selecting which investments to be made, such as the issuers’ financial condition, their industry position, and market & economic conditions. This FCNTX fund may invest in either growth stocks or value stocks or both of them.

FCNTX Fund Details

    Fidelity Contrafund (FCNTX) Fund
  • Fund Inception Date: May 1967
  • Ticker Symbol: FCNTX
  • CUSIP: 316071109
  • Net Assets: $64 billion
  • Beta: 0.85
  • Rank in category (YTD): 69
  • Category: Large Growth
  • Yield: 0.0%
  • Capital Gains: 0.0%
  • Number of Years Up: 32 years
  • Number of Years Down: 11 years
Updated on 5/21/2011

Since September 1990, this fund is managed by William Danoff which as well served as the vice president of Fidelity Investment. In the large growth category, FCNTX has quite low annual expense ratio with 0.91%, while the average expense ratio in the category is 1.31%.

Fidelity Intermediate Municipal Income Fund (FLTMX)

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The following article is another Kip 25 best fund, Fidelity Intermediate Municipal Income fund. This is the only national municipal bond fund in this list. The advantages of investing in Municipal bond fund, also known as Muni bond fund, are you will earn regular income and the fund's yield is tax exempt from federal income tax (tax free or non taxable). Details about this fund are listed below. This fund is especially suitable for high income investor, retiree, near retirement investor, and conservative investor.

Fidelity Intermediate Municipal Income (Ticker: FLTMX)

Fidelity Intermediate Municipal Income Fund (FLTMX)The investment in Fidelity Intermediate Municipal Income is seeking for a high level of current income exempt from federal income tax consistent with capital preservation. The majority net asset is invested in investment-grade municipal securities (at least 80% asset). The interest of these securities is exempt from federal income tax.

This fund maintains a dollar-weighted average maturity between 3 and 10 years. The fund also allocates the assets across different market sectors and maturities and potentially invests more than a quarter of its assets in municipal securities that finance similar types of objects.

FLTMX Fund Details

  • Fund Inception Date: April 1977
  • Ticker Symbol: FLTMX
  • CUSIP: 31638R204
  • Beta (3yr): 0.64
  • Rank in category: 63
  • Category: Muni National Intermediate
  • Yield: 3.46% 
  • Tax Equivalent Yield: 4.62% (based on 25% income tax rate)
  • Capital Gains: N/A
  • Number of Years Up: 28 years
  • Number of Years Down: 5 years
  • Weighted Average Maturity: 5.5 years
  • Option Adjusted Duration: 5.3 years
  • Short-term Redemption Fee: 0.5% (30 days)
updated on 5/18/2011

This FLTMX fund’s manager is Mark Sommer since July 2006. The minimum balance to invest in this fund for either brokerage or IRA account is $10,000. Also, there is no minimum subsequent investment. As part of no load fund, there is no extra fee for investing in this fund (i.e. there is no 12b1 fee and sales-load fee). The current expense ratio of this fund is 0.39% per year. The average expense ratio for the Muni National Intermediate category is 0.88%.

Fund Returns

The fund performance is listed below:
  • 1-year: 2.55%
  • 3-year: 4.33%
  • 5-year: 4.28%
  • 10-year: 4.63%
FLTMX has recorded the best 1-year total return in year 2000 with 9.26% return. The worst return was in 1999 with -1.06% return. This fund has 4-stars rating from Morningstar. And it has an average of 4.38% of 5-year return.

This top Fidelity bond fund can be purchased from 60 brokerages include JP Morgan, T Rowe Price, Vanguard, FTJ Fund Choice, Firstrade, Wells Fargo Advisors MF Advisory, Bear Stearns, Scottrade TF, E Trade Financial, TD Ameritrade Inc, Ameriprise Brokerage, etc. To maximize your trade potential (i.e. buy or sell this mutual fund), it is better to open a Fidelity brokerage account. You can buy and sell Fidelity mutual fund and NTF mutual fund (no transaction fee fund). Also, you can buy and sell 30 iShares Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) for free with Fidelity online brokerage account.

As of March 2011, this best municipal bond fund has invested 50.88% of its assets in revenue bonds, 47.21% in general obligation bonds and 1.91% in cash & net other assets. The top 5 states for the asset allocation of this fund are New York, California, Illinois, Texas and Florida. The revenue source diversification as of March 2011 are 18.08% in local obligations, 17.01% in state obligations, 15.34% in health care, 12.25% in pooled loan/ other, 7.40% in escrowed/ special obligation/ pre-refund bonds, 7.35% in transportation, 5.64% in industrial revenue/ pollution control, 5.55% in electric utilities, 4.78% in water, sewer & gas utilities, 2.85% in universities/ student loans, 1.90% in cash & net other assets, 1.70% in resource recovery and 0.15% in housing. As of May 2011, this fund has 18.00% annual holdings turnover.

The top 10 holdings are Illinois Tool Hwy, New York State Energy Research & Dev. Authority, Farmington Poll, Illinois Dev. Finance Auth. Retirement, Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority, Ohio Water Development Authority, Reedy Creek Impt District, Dallas Waterworks & Sewer System, Pennsylvania Tpk Commission, and Oklahoma Power Authority.

Investing in this Muni bond fund involve principal investment risks such as:
  • Municipal Market Volatility: Municipal market can be volatile due to adverse tax, legislative, political changes, and financial condition of municipal bond issuers.
  • Interest Rate Changes: The increase of interest rate can cause the debt security value to decrease (i.e. bond value will decrease with higher yield) 
  • Issuer Specific Changes: A decline in credit quality changes on individual bond can cause the price of an obligation to decrease.
Pros:
  • It is a no transaction fee fund
  • It has good long term performance
Cons:
  • none
Disclosure: No Position

Related bond fund review:

Dodge & Cox Stock Fund (DODGX)

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The following Dodge & Cox Stock fund is one of Kiplinger’s 25 Best Funds and one of the oldest funds. This fund has an investment style of investing in US domestic large blend companies.

This type of class should be part of your investment portfolio. The rule of thumb is to have about 20-30% of total investment asset diversified in this fund type. You can also invest in other Kip 25 US domestic stock funds such as BBH Core Select, Fidelity Contrafund, T Rowe Price Equity Income, Primecap Odyssey Growth, and Vanguard Dividend Growth.

Large Value Fund

Dodge & Cox Stock fund objective is to provide long term growth for principal and income. This fund also tries to provide consistent current income as a secondary objective. It prefers to invest in broadly diversified portfolio of common stocks. There are >80% of its total assets invested in common stocks.

This Dodge & Cox fund also may purchase other type of securities, such as preferred stocks and convertible bond. The remaining 20% total assets are invested in U.S. dollar-denominated securities of foreign stocks. It will select companies that are not listed in the S&P 500 list and are traded in the United States stock market (NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, etc).

DODGX Fund Details

    Dodge & Cox Stock Fund (DODGX)
  • Fund Inception Date: January 1965
  • Ticker Symbol: DODGX
  • CUSIP: 256219106
  • Net Assets: $46.34 Billion
  • Beta (3yr): 1.18
  • Rank in category (YTD): 22
  • Category: Large Value
  • Distribution: 1.09% (Dividends are distributed in March, June, September and December)
  • Capital Gains: If any, are distributed in December and March. 
  • Number of Years Up: 35 years
  • Number of Years Down: 10 years
Updated on May 18th, 2011
Since January 1977, John R. Gunn has managed this DODGX fund. He is the CEO as well as the CIO (Chief Investment Officer) of this fund. If you are interested to invest in this fund, please note that the minimum balance to open a brokerage account is $2,500 and $1,000 for IRA account. The minimum subsequent investment is only $100 for either account. This fund is a no-sales load fund as well as no 12b1 fee. The annual expense ratio is 0.52%, which is quite low compared to the category average of 1.26%.

DODGX Fund

This fund has 3-stars rating from Morningstar. This best fund has been in the market for around 45 years, it gains 35 years with positive return and 10 years with the negative return. Data shown that the best 1-year total returns was achieved in 2003 with 32.34%. The worst 1-year total return in 2008 with -43.31%. DODGX fund has 9.97% of year-to-date return. The load adjusted returns is 15.60% over the past one year and 5.66% over the past decade.

There are 82 brokerages that provide this large value US stock fund, include Vanguard, DATALynx, Merrill Lynch, Schwab Institutional, JP Morgan, Royal Alliance, Raymond James, MSSB Retail Fund, Etrade Financial, T. Rowe Price, CommonWealth PPS, etc.

Dodge & Cox Funds

The annual holdings turnover as of May 2011 is 12.00% while the average turnover in the category is 59.28%. As per the first quarter of 2011, the 10 largest holdings of this fund are Hewlett-Packard Co. (4.2%), Comcast Corp (3.7%), Capital One Financial Corp (3.7%), Wellls Fargo & Co. (3.7%), General Electric Co. (3.4%), Schlumberger, Ltd. (3.2%), News Corp. (2.9%), Pfizer, Inc. (2.7%), Novartis AG (2.6%) and Time Warner, Inc. (2.6%). The top 5 sectors of this fund are Information Technology (21.1%), Health Care (19.0%), Financials (17.4%), Consumer Discretionary (16.2%), and Energy (10.0%).

Principal risks of investing in this fund are

    Best Equity Mutual Fund
  • Issuer Risk: Any changes in financial condition of issuer may change the issuer’s value.
  • Management Risk: This fund manager may have incorrect opinion about the intrinsic value of invested companies.
  • Equity Risk: As any stocks fund, the fund volatility may be higher than fixed income fund.
  • Market Risk: Depending on general market condition, this fund also subject to decline or advance over short term or long term period.
  • Liquidity Risk
  • Non-US Issuer Risk: Foreign stock may fluctuate depending on its political economic, currency and market stability.
 Disclosure: No Position

Best Performer Conservative Allocation Balanced Funds 2011: Part 2

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If you miss my part 1 article, please check Top Performer Conservative Allocation Balanced Mutual Funds 2011: Pt 1. This article will provide 6 additional top performer conservative allocation balance fund. As discussed before, balanced fund is one of the easiest ways for conservative investor to invest in mutual fund.

This fund is also very popular among retiree and near retirement people. This balanced fund, also known as hybrid fund, can invest in variety of investment such as equity (stock), bond (fixed income), preferred stock, convertible, foreign stock or bond, bank loan, etc. The fund list is sorted based on the year to date fund performance in 2011 (up to May 17th, 2011).

Best Performer Conservative Allocation Balanced Mutual Funds of May 2011 - Part 2:
    Best Performer Conservative Allocation Balanced Funds Part 2
  1. SunAmerica 2020 High Watermark A
  2. Natixis Income Diversified A
  3. Catalyst/SMH Total Return Income A
  4. Fifth Third Strategic Inc A
  5. API Efficient Frontier Income A
  6. Permanent Portfolio
  7. WHG Income Opportunity A
  8. IMS Strategic Income
  9. Thrivent Diversified Income Plus A
  10. MFS Diversified Income A
updated on 05/19/2011

Permanent Portfolio (Ticker: PRPFX)

Permanent PortfolioPermanent Portfolio fund objective is to preserve and increase the purchasing power value of its shares over the long term. The fund has a fixed target percentage of net assets that are invested in gold and silver, Swiss franc assets, U.S. and foreign real estate and natural resource stocks, aggressive growth stocks and U.S. treasury bills, bonds and other dollar assets.
Since May 2003, this Permanent fund is managed by Michael J. Cuggino.

This fund was formally introduced to retail investor in December 1982. The minimum balance to open a brokerage or IRA account for this fund is $1,000 and a minimum of $100 for the subsequent investment. There is no 12b1 fee as well as no sales-load fee for investing in PRPFX. The annual expense ratio of this fund (0.77%) is lower than the average (0.86%).

The performance of this balanced fund is as below:
  • 1-year: 22.43%
  • 3-years: 10.95%
  • 5-years: 10.34%
  • 10-years: 12.00%
The PRPFX fund has a 10.34% of 5-year average return with 8.56% of year-to-date return. Since its inception, the fund has 24 years of positive return (the best return occurred in 2003 with 20.45%) and 4 years of negative return (the worst return is -8.36%).

PRPFX can be purchased from 88 brokerages include T Rowe Price, JP Morgan, Td Ameritrade Inc, Schwab Retail, Morgan Stanley Advisors, Royal Alliance, Vanguard NTF, Common Wealth NTF, etc.

The top ten holdings of this fund are Cash & Cash Equivalents (17.50%), Gold Coins (12.84%), Gold Bullion (6.16%), Silver Bullion (5.79%), U.S. Treasury Bonds 7.25% 5-15-16 (1.26%), U.S. Treasury Bonds 6.25% 8-15-23 (1.26%), U.S. Treasury Bonds 6.00% 2-15-26 (1.24%), U.S. Treasury Bonds 5.25% 11-15-28 (1.15%), U.S. Treasury Notes 4.25% 11-15-14 (1.11%) and U.S. Treasury Notes 4.25% 11-15-13 (1.10%).

WHG Income Opportunity A (Ticker: WWIAX)

WHG Income Opportunity AThe investment objective of WHG Income Opportunity fund is seeking to provide current income. This fund puts capital appreciation in long term period as a secondary objective. The net asset of this fund is normally invested in dividend-paying securities, as well as interest-bearing securities. It seeks to invest in securities of strong companies that have strong cash flow. The cash flow is sufficient enough to support a sustainable income stream for investors. It usually invests in domestic companies’ securities with any capitalization range, but it may also invest in foreign securities and ADRs.

John D. Vandermosten has managed this WWIAX fund since April 2008, six months after its inception. The minimum balance to invest in this fund, for either brokerage or IRA account, is $5,000. There is no minimum subsequent investment needed. The 12b1 fee is 0.25% and there is 5.0% front-end sales load. This WWIAX fund has 1.15% annual expense ratio, which is bit higher than the average in the conservative allocation balanced fund category (0.86%).

This best balanced fund has returned 8.91% over the past one year and 5.68% over the past five years. It has recorded the best one year return in 2010 with 13.34% return. WWIAX has a 5-star rating from Morningstar. The other class of this fund is WHG Income Opportunity Institutional Class (Ticker: WHGIX).

This fund can be purchased from 33 brokerages, such as Scottrade Load, JP Morgan, Schwab Retail, Raymond James, Bear Stearns Load, RBC Wealth Management-Network, Pershing FundCenter, etc.

The top 10 holdings of this fund as of March 2011 are GAP Inc, Du Pont De Nemours, Abbott Laboratories, Exxon Mobil Cor, Southern Co, Comcast Corp, Johnson & Johns, General Mills Inc, Raytheon and PG & E Corp.

IMS Strategic Income (Ticker: IMSIX)

The investment in IMS Strategic Income fund seeks for current income at the first place. For this fund, seeking for capital appreciation is a secondary objective. The majority of the assets (at least 80%) are invested in dividend paying or other income producing securities. There is no specific requirement for duration or maturity of the securities. It may invest up to 35% of its assets in domestic high yield fixed income securities.

This best performing fund is managed by Carl W. Marker since its inception in November 2002. The minimum initial investment for either brokerage or IRA account is $5,000. If you are interested to invest in this fund, there is no 12b1 fee and no sales-load fee as well. The last dividend distributed in April 2011 is 0.05%. The expense ratio of this fund is 2.01% per year. This expense ratio is higher than the average in the category which is 0.86%.

This conservative allocation balanced fund has returned 11.11% over the past one year and 0.69% over the past three years. The best 1-year total return was in 2009 with 32.45%, while the best 3-year total return was 8.66%. The worst 1-year total return was in 2008 with -39.31%, while the worst 3-year total return was -10.87%.

The IMSIX fund can be purchased from 59 brokerages include Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, Vanguard NTF, Ameritas NTF P, Scottrade NTF, Bear Stearns, Firstrade, Schwab Retail, LPL Sam Eligible, Pershing Fund Center, etc.

Thrivent Diversified Income Plus A (Ticker: AAHYX)

Thrivent Diversified Income Plus fund objective is to maintain long term capital appreciation while maximizing the income. It normally invests in a portfolio of equity and debt securities that may include high-yield, high-risk bonds, debentures, notes and other debt obligations (junk bonds). These securities are considered to be of compared quality at the time of purchase even though it may be rated below investment-grade at the time of purchase. There is no certain maturity selection for this fund.

Thrivent Diversified Income Plus AThis fund is managed by Paul R. Ocenasek since December 2004. The minimum balance to invest in brokerage account of this fund is $1,000 and $500 for IRA account. Both accounts require a minimum of $50 subsequent investment. The 12b1 fee (i.e. management fee) for this fund is 0.25%. There is also a front-end sales load fee of 4.5%. AAHYX has an expense ratio of 1.12% per year.

The performance of this fund is as below:
  • 1-year: 9.42%
  • 3-year: 5.31%
  • 5-year: 5.06%
  • 10-year: 6.07%
Since its inception, this fund has experienced 7 years of positive return and 6 years of negative return. The year-to-date return is 5.68%.

AAHYX fund can be purchased from a limited of 5 brokerages only, which are Fidelity Institutional FundsNetwork, Fidelity Institutional FundsNetwork-NTF, Daily Access Corporation RTC, Daily Access Corporation FRIAG and Thrivent Advisory Eligible. There is no other class for this fund.

This fund has recorded a high holdings turnover yearly. As of May 2011, it has recorded a 112.00% turnover, while the average turnover is 58.23%. As of March 2011, the top ten equity holdings are iShares Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Index Fund (1.28%), Vanguard REIT ETF (1.24%), Chevron Corporation (1.09%), AT&T Inc (0.96%), Exxon Mobil Corporation (0.90%), MASTR Alternative Loans Trust (0.88%), Conoco Phillips (0.87%), Pfizer Inc (0.85%), Philip Morris International Inc (0.78%) and Deutsche Alt-A Securities Inc (0.77%).

MFS Diversified Income A

The investment in MFS Diversified Income is seeking for a total return by emphasizing on current income. Although seeking for current income, it also considers for gaining capital appreciation. It invests primarily in a broad range of debt instruments and equity securities, including securities that are related to real estate and convertible securities. The fund focuses in dividend-paying stocks and/ or in the stocks of companies that are value companies for the equity portion. While for the debt portion, it invests in all types of corporate and government debt instruments of U.S. and foreign issues.

MFS Diversified Income AThe minimum balance to invest in this fund is $1,000 for brokerage account and $250 for IRA account. There is no minimum subsequent investment for brokerage account, but IRA account requires $50 minimum subsequent investment. This DIFAX fund has 0.25% 12b1 fee and 4.75% front-end sales load fee. DIFAX has higher annual expense ratio (1.06%) than the category average expense (0.86%).

It has returned 7.81% over the past year and 5.46% over the past three years. Record shown that the best total 1-year return was in 2009 with 30.26% return.

This fund is managed by James T. Swanson since May 2006. DIFAX can be purchased from 69 brokerages include Firstrade, Scottrade Load, TD Ameritrade Inc, JP Morgan, Edward Jones, Ameriprise SPS Advantage, etc. The other class of this fund is class C (Ticker: DIFCX).

As of May 2011, this fund annual turnover is 59.0%, while the average is only 58.23%. The top 10 holdings of this fund as of March 2011 are United States Treasury Note 1.375, Simon Property Group Inc, United States Treasury Note 2.750, AGCY – MBS FNMA, United States Treasury Note 2.125, United States Treasury Note 5.25, Public Storage REIT, United States Treasury Note 1.875, Chevron Corp and Vornado Realty Trust REIT. These 10 holdings represent 14.2% of total net assets.

Vanguard Wellesley Income Inv (VWINX)

This next fund easily can be the top performer fund in any year. Vanguard Wellesley Income fund is one of the premier Vanguard funds with 5 stars rating from Morningstar. The objective of Vanguard Wellesley Income fund is to provide long term income growth. This fund is also seeking to provide sustainable level of current income along with moderate long-term capital appreciation.

The 60% to 65% of its assets are invested in U.S. Treasury, investment-grade corporate and government agency bonds. The remaining 35% to 40% assets are invested in common stocks of above-average dividends companies.

Since June 2008, John C. Keogh has managed this fund. The minimum initial investment for this fund is $3,000 for either brokerage or IRA account with $100 of subsequent investment. For investing in this fund, there is no management fee and no sales-load fee. This fund distributes 3.56% dividend yearly. The last dividend distributed in March 2011 is 0.19%.

VWINX fund has the lowest expense ratio annually compared to the other bonds described here. The expense ratio is 0.28% yearly. The fund’s annual turnover is 30.00%. As of May 2011, the fund asset is allocated as follow 58.14% bonds, 38.48% stocks, and 3.38% short term reserves. The top 5 equity sectors are consumer staples (18.9%), energy (13.8%), industrials (13.6%), health care (12.8%), and financials (10.9%). The bond portion portfolio has an average duration of 5.7 years.

There are totals of 585 holdings (528 bonds and 57 stocks). The 10 largest equity holdings include Chevron Corp, Pfizer Inc, Home Depot Inc, Johnson & Johnson, Marsh & McLennan Cos Inc, Merck & Co Inc, AT&T Inc, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, and General Electric Co. The top 4 bond issuers include industrial bonds (34.1%), finance bonds (32.3%), government mortgage backed (7.1%), and utilities bond (6.8%).

Disclosure: No Position

NoFund DescriptionTickerYieldMorningstar RatingNet Assets (Mil)Expense RatioMin to Invest
6Permanent PortfolioPRPFX0.58%5$13,490 0.77%$1,000
7WHG Income Opportunity AWWIAX2.17%5$393 1.15%$5,000
8IMS Strategic IncomeIMSIX8.51%1$42 2.01%$5,000
9Thrivent Diversified Income Plus AAAHYX4.84%3$208 1.12%$1,000
10MFS Diversified Income ADIFAX3.97%3$495 1.06%$1,000
--Vanguard Wellesley Income InvVWINX3.56%5$21,740 0.28%$3,000
For fund performance, please check the first article. All information is updated on May 18th, 2011.