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In the stock mutual fund universe covered by Ratings

, the highest-rated funds all struggled over the past three months and in July itself.

What it really comes down to is which funds in which sectors or classifications suffered less at the hands of the bear market, and investors need to be aware of this because it can affect a portfolio or a 401(k) plan.

The asset-allocation funds have been able to hold up the best because of their exposure to the bond market, which includes government securities, corporate debt, municipals and even large cash holdings.

An interesting example is the

GE Conservative Allocation Fund


, which has 60% of its funds under management in cash. This fund is appealing for those investors who fear further market declines but still want a 20% exposure to the equity markets and bond markets, respectively.

Sam Patel, CFA, is the manager of mutual fund research for the Ratings.

In keeping with TSC's Investment Policy, employees of Ratings with access to pre-publication ratings data must pre-clear any potential trade through the legal department, and are prohibited from trading any security that is the subject of an unpublished rating revision until the second business day after the rating is published.

While Patel cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he appreciates your feedback;

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