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2 Newly Rated Bond Mutual Funds to Buy


NEW YORK ( TheStreet Ratings) -- Ratings initiated coverage of five bond mutual funds that accrued a sufficient track record of risk and performance data by the end of July 2011. Two of these newly rated mutual funds earned initial grades in the 'buy' range, plus three more funds start out at 'hold'.

Of the newly rated funds, none ranks higher than Frost Total Return Bond Fund (FATRX) with an initial rating of A+, or Excellent. The fund has an inception date of Jul. 1, 2008.

The Frost Total Return Bond Fund seeks to maximize total return, consisting of income and capital appreciation, consistent with the preservation of principal. The fund invests at least 80 percent of its net assets in fixed income securities. The adviser actively manages the duration of the fund and purchases securities such that the average weighted duration of the fund will typically range within plus or minus three years of the benchmark duration of the fund.

The fund may invest in U.S. dollar-denominated fixed income securities such as U.S. Treasury securities, governmental agency debt, corporate debt, asset-backed securities, taxable municipal bonds, collateralized mortgage obligations and residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities. The fund has an effective duration of 3.24 years and an average weighted maturity of 5.13 years. This fund averaged a total return of 10.0% over the last three years and 8.4% in the last year. 1.95% of this fund is held the 5.25% corporate debt of Transocean (RIG).

The only other bond mutual fund with an initial rating in the 'buy' range, PIA High Yield Fund (PHYSX), earned a grade of B- averaging a return of 10.6% in three years and 13.2% in the last year. The Fund seeks a high level of current income. The fund invests, under normal circumstances, at least 80 percent of its net assets in a diversified portfolio of domestic and foreign high yield instruments, defined as bonds, forward commitments, loan participations and assignments, and preferred stocks.

The fund invests up to 5 percent of its net assets in securities denominated in foreign currencies, up to 10 percent of its net assets in securities and instruments that are economically tied to emerging market countries and up to 5 percent of its net assets in derivative instruments, such as options, futures contracts or swap agreements. The fund has a duration of 4.4 years and an average weighted maturity of 6.0 years. Top corporate debt holdings include United Rentals Inc (URI) and Stoneridge Inc (SRI).

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