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What are Core Mutual Funds?

Core mutual funds represent the middle ground between Value and Growth, but are not the same as Blend funds. Core Mutual Funds are in between Growth and Value funds. In other words, companies in their portfolio have Price to Earnings ratios which are higher than those of Value companies but lower than those of Growth companies. This category is essentially based on the 9-box Morningstar categorization system, which separates equity funds into Small, Mid and Large Cap on the vertical axis and Value, Core, and Growth on the horizontal axis. Continue reading...

What are Blend Mutual Funds?

Blend mutual funds offer exposure to both growth stocks and value stocks. Blend mutual funds seek to capture the upside of growth stocks as well as the dividend yield of value stocks. P/E ratios can be used to identify a growth or value stock: where a P/E over about 25 is a growth stock and under about 15 is a value stock. Blend funds are generally considered a good core asset, but are not the same thing as a Core Fund. Continue reading...

What are Value Mutual Funds?

Value mutual funds are those that invest in companies with strong fundamentals and steady earnings histories. A Value Mutual Fund’s portfolio will typically consist of stocks that are considered to be undervalued and expected to pay out dividends. The stocks held in such funds usually have P/E ratios in-line with or lower than the S&P 500 index, and such companies are usually older and well-established. Continue reading...

How Do I Find the Best Mutual Fund?

It requires a great deal of due diligence, but investors should understand that past performance is not indicative of future performance. Focus on experience. In the stock market, as with most things in life, hindsight is 20/20. There are countless lists on the internet with titles like “The Best Mutual Fund Families” and “50 Winning Mutual Funds.” It is important to understand that the names on those lists are a function of hindsight and not foresight. Continue reading...

What can I find out about hedge funds?

Hedge funds have historically been very secretive. They still mainly fall under Regulation D and private-placement laws, but their reporting requirements have been slightly expanded after the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010. Now, they are a little more transparent, but not fully. Up until the Dodd-Frank Act, it was basically impossible to know what hedge funds were investing in and who was involved. Hedge fund managers and their investment banks were under no obligation to report the holdings, and they generally avoided leaking any information about their market positions for fear of damaging their advantages. Continue reading...

Where can I find information about hedge funds and their performance?

Not all hedge funds are obligated to disclose their holdings, trades, or performance. About half of them are, however, and their performance can be found online through Morningstar and other sources. This information may not be as detailed as you would like, and you may try other means. Since the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, more information about hedge funds is available to the public. This does not mean that all the information you seek will be readily available, however, and there are many hedge funds that do not make their information public. Continue reading...

What are Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds are managed portfolios of stocks and bonds, where the portfolio manager uses pooled investor funds to manage the portfolio. In the U.S., the first mutual fund was created in 1924 when three investors in Boston pooled their money and formed the Massachusetts Investors’ Trust. The essence behind Mutual Funds today is the same – a pool of money is collected from a number of investors and then professionally managed. Continue reading...

What are Specialty Funds?

Specialty funds may be completely unique and offer investors a strategy that they cannot find elsewhere, or they may just represent a strategy with an extremely narrow focus. There are many Specialty Funds, and their investment strategy is bounded only by the imaginations of the companies who create them. They tend to focus on markets that an investor may not have any exposure to otherwise, such as the Ultrashort Japan Fund. Continue reading...

What are Alternative Funds?

The idea with Alternative fund investing is to gain exposure to assets which are not highly correlated with the rest of your portfolio, and which use non-traditional approaches to fund management. Alternative Funds are mutual funds that invest in non-traditional asset classes such as commodities (gold, silver, oil, etc.), agricultural products (cocoa futures, orange futures, pork-belly futures), non-publicly traded companies and limited partnerships, and so on. Continue reading...

What are Balanced Funds?

Balanced funds offer a well-diversified investment that includes relatively equal exposure to stocks and bonds. Balanced funds combine stocks, bonds, and money market instruments to give investors some upside potential along with a goal of capital preservation. While they are considered to be safer, they also have more modest returns in most market environments, because, of course lower risk investments have lower potential returns. Continue reading...

What is a foreign fund?

A foreign fund is a mutual fund that invests solely in companies abroad and does not invest in corporations owned in the US. Owning foreign companies can be a very good diversification strategy and is considered a core holding in the portfolio of most investors. Foreign exposure means that if the US economy hits a rough patch, you may have a hedge in the foreign fund if the companies or markets in other parts of the world are not entirely correlated. Continue reading...

What is a hedge fund?

Hedge funds are private investment groups that attract high net worth individuals (and in some cases institutions), and use investment strategies that may be riskier than would be suitable for the average investor. While the name "hedge" implies that the fund serves a defensive purpose, today’s hedge funds use wide array strategies, and more often than not the goal is total return. The strategies used are often speculative, contrarian, or alternative compared to most investment options in say mutual funds or traditional long-only asset managers. Continue reading...

What Are the Basics of Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds come in many varieties, but here are some basics to keep in mind to help you find your way. While most people have definitely heard the term mutual fund, many people do not understand how they work and how to use them. With over 10,000 mutual funds available in the marketplace today, the average person may have a hard time selecting appropriate mutual funds for his or her portfolio, determining a good asset mix, and understanding all of the charges associated with buying, owning, and selling mutual funds. Continue reading...

How are Mutual Funds Classified?

Mutual funds can be described, categorized, and screened using the various criteria involved in their construction and maintenance. When investors look for mutual funds, it may be useful to incorporate a mutual fund screener from a website. There are many criteria by which you can classify a mutual fund, such as investment style, market capitalizations of stocks in the fund, the industry sector or region in which the fund focuses, as well as the size of the expenses or type of sales load. Is the fund geared toward the short-term or long-term? Does it have a high turnover ratio? Continue reading...

What are Real Estate Funds?

Real estate mutual funds invest in publicly-traded companies in the real estate industry, and are slightly different than REITs. A real estate mutual fund invests in companies in the real estate industry. These companies will include real estate brokerage companies in the commercial, residential, or raw land sector, as well as the lending institutions that are involved in such transactions, among other holdings. Continue reading...

What are Fixed Income Funds?

Fixed income funds may not be used for income at all, but are relatively safe investments that primarily consist of dividend-paying bonds. Fixed income funds, also known as bond funds, invest primarily in bonds, but might also include some preferred stock, which pays regular dividends and behaves much like debt instruments. In fact, there are also Preferred Stock Funds and ETFs that fit into this category. Continue reading...

What are Municipal Bond Funds?

Municipal bonds funds invest exclusively in tax-advantaged municipal bond issues. Municipal Bond Funds invest in issues of municipal debt, often with the intention of using its tax advantages. Bonds held in a ‘muni fund’ might be state or local issues of general obligation or revenue bonds. Gains on muni funds are not taxable at the federal level, and if a person resides in the state in which the bond was issued, they can most likely avoid state or local taxes on gains as well. Continue reading...

What is a market neutral fund?

Market neutral funds might be hedge funds or mutual funds or ETFs whose strategy is not based on bullish or bearish market predictions but instead seeks to be in a position to profit whether the market goes up or down. Most mutual funds and ETFs out there are inherently bullish — you invest in those funds because you believe or hope that the industry or geographic region or cap-size that they invest in will grow in the future. Some funds offer bears a place to hole-up when the bubble inevitably bursts (or so they think). Continue reading...

What are Growth Mutual Funds?

Companies that generally have high P/E ratios, high expected growth rates, and that generally do not pay dividends are likely to be found in the portfolio of a growth mutual fund. Growth mutual funds invest in companies that are developing and/or have a high potential for growth, as the name implies. Growth Funds are typically riskier because the companies they invest in have a heightened chance of both profiting and failing. Continue reading...

What are International Equity Funds?

International equity funds hold stocks of corporations based outside of the United States. International equity funds invest mostly in the stock of overseas companies. People purchase shares of such funds as a means of globally diversifying their portfolio. There is some degree of currency risk involved in international investments, which may necessitate a currency hedging strategy if an investor is heavily invested across the globe. Continue reading...