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BUYING AND SELLING MUTUAL FUNDS

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Category : Mutual Fund.
Topic : Rules for buying and selling mutual funds. Author : Zion Dudley.
Posted : Sat, Mar 30th 2019 11:59 AM.
Format : jpg/jpeg.

The value of the fund is based on the value of the assets it holds. As the stocks or bonds within the fund increase in value, the fund increases in value. Conversely, as the stocks or bonds within the fund decrease in value, the fund also decreases in value. Mutual funds only trade at the end of the day based on their net asset value (NAV). To determine the NAV at the end of the trading day, the mutual fund company looks at all of the assets that are in the basket, determines their value and divides that number by the total number of outstanding shares in the fund.

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One test is to check the funds ten largest holdings. In the more concentrated funds, the ten largest holdings may comprise a significant percentage of the portfolio; in the less concentrated funds, they may hold a much lower percentage. Always know what specific investments your fund or funds own to remain diversified.

A fund that has been in existence five to ten years or more has a much better track record to assess than a relatively new fund that have not necessarily had performance measured during various economic or market periods. The longer the period of history you have to review, the higher the quality of historical performance data.

Another point to consider when investing in mutual funds is taxes. When a fund manager sells a stock or bond within the basket for a gain, IRS regulations provide that this gain be taxed to the shareholders of the fund. This means that a fund with a high turnover (a fund that buys and sells a lot within the basket each year) could have a great deal of gains that will be taxable to the shareholders. The tax gains are passed through to the shareholders who own the fund as of a specific date each year. This means that someone buying the fund just before the taxable distribution date, will pay the tax on the gain for the entire year, even though they did not own the fund all year. For more tax efficient funds, look for funds that have a low turnover rate.

Mutual funds are divided into two categories: closed-end funds and open-end funds. Closed-end funds have a fixed number of shares issued to the public. If you want to purchase a piece of the fund, you have to purchase an existing share from a shareholder that is selling.

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Mutual funds are managed by a portfolio manager, or in some cases, by a team of portfolio managers. The success of a fund by an individual fund manager may be largely dictated by his performance. That is important to know, because a fund with a good track record historically, may perform differently in the future if the fund manager changes. It is always prudent to review the tenure of the fund manager in concert with past performance.

Some specialty funds are going to be higher, but for the most part you should try to buy funds that are under 1%. Funds are required by law to produce a document called a prospectus, which no one ever reads, that tells you important information about the fund. Fortunately, Morningstar reports most of this same information in a much easier to understand way. The best mutual funds will keep these internal costs to a minimum.

Another point to consider when investing in mutual funds is taxes. When a fund manager sells a stock or bond within the basket for a gain, IRS regulations provide that this gain be taxed to the shareholders of the fund. This means that a fund with a high turnover (a fund that buys and sells a lot within the basket each year) could have a great deal of gains that will be taxable to the shareholders. The tax gains are passed through to the shareholders who own the fund as of a specific date each year. This means that someone buying the fund just before the taxable distribution date, will pay the tax on the gain for the entire year, even though they did not own the fund all year. For more tax efficient funds, look for funds that have a low turnover rate.

Alpha - measures the performance of a fund on a risk-adjusted basis. Alpha calculates a risk factor relative to a fund, and then compares that risk-adjusted performance to a benchmark (such as the S&P 500). A number is then assigned that reflects how that fund performs, relative to the amount of risk the investment is exposed to. For example, a positive alpha of 1.0 means the fund has outperformed its benchmark index by 1%, or a negative alpha of -1.0 would indicate an underperformance compared to the benchmark of 1%.

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Mutual funds are managed by a portfolio manager, or in some cases, by a team of portfolio managers. The success of a fund by an individual fund manager may be largely dictated by his performance. That is important to know, because a fund with a good track record historically, may perform differently in the future if the fund manager changes. It is always prudent to review the tenure of the fund manager in concert with past performance.

When investing in mutual funds (or any investments), it is important to be diversified (see my blog titled The Truth About Diversification). Sometimes, owning a few different mutual funds may give the appearance of being well diversified, but on closer inspection, if the funds you own, each have major holdings in the same stocks, you may not be diversified at all.

A common mistake for novice investors is to select a mutual based solely on its past performance record. Past performance may not be a food indicator of future performance, given possible changes in the global or domestic economy, the markets, or specific sectors the fund invests in. While past performance is a useful tool and one item to consider, it should not be the sole criteria. In many cases last years winners are next years underperformers.