TheStreet.com Ratings initiated coverage of 19 open-end mutual funds that accrued a track record of three years of risk and performance data by the end of March.
Three of the funds that opened for business in March 2005, received our top rating of A+ or Excellent.
Adv Inn Cir Reaves Select Research Fund
, with nearly 87% invested in domestic growth stocks, found the two sweet spots in the U.S. economy: utilities and energy. The fund is allocated to 22% electric, 17.5% telecommunications, 14.7% oil & gas, 14.3% gas and 7.1% oil & gas services. The fund does have an undesirable front load of 4.75% that cuts into potential returns.
The next two funds avoid U.S. stocks. While they don't charge loads, they both have 2% early-withdrawal penalties. Be sure to ask your broker or the fund family, if you are directly purchasing a fund investment, what loads, fees, and expenses you would be charged if you purchase a fund. Confirming this information before you make the purchase is the best way to avoid a negative surprise when it's time to liquidate the position and move on.
American Century International Stock Fund
( ASKIX) staged a comeback in the first quarter of 2008 after a few rough months finishing out 2007. Some of its top-performing holdings include
( KUNAF), a German chemical company that is up an average of 95.20% per year for the last three years;
Vestas Wind Systems A/S
, a Danish alternative-energy company up 92.64% annually; and
, a French industrial machinery company up 85.57% over the same period.
The other non-U.S. equity fund starting off at A+ is the
Northern International Equity Index Fund
. This fund tracks the MSCI EAFE Index by holding a huge portfolio of nearly 1,200 securities. Its biggest country holdings are: U.K., at 19.5%; Japan, at 19.4%; France, at 9.8%; Germany, at 9.1%; and Switzerland, at 6.9%.
TheStreet.com Ratings condenses the available fund performance and risk data into a single composite opinion of each fund's risk-adjusted performance. This allows the unbiased identification of those funds that have historically done well and those that have underperformed the market. While there is no guarantee of future performance, these Investment Ratings provide a solid framework for making informed, timely investment decisions.
The funds listed below have either reached their three year anniversary or are additional share classes of existing funds for which the fund companies have submitted three years of pro-forma results.
Funds rated A or B are considered "Buy" rated based on a track record of higher than average risk-adjusted performance. Funds at the C level are rated as "Hold," while underperformers at the D and E levels in our model rank as "Sell."
No additional exchange-traded funds or traditional closed-end funds were issued initial ratings in March.
For an explanation of our ratings,
Kevin Baker became the senior financial analyst for TSC Ratings upon the August 2006 acquisition of Weiss Ratings by TheStreet.com, covering mutual funds. He joined the Weiss Group in 1997 as a banking and brokerage analyst. In 1999, he created the Weiss Group's first ratings to gauge the level of risk in U.S. equities. Baker received a B.S. degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an M.B.A. with a finance specialization from Nova Southeastern University.