As bonds struggle, investors hunt for income. But not all ETFs are created equal
Closed-end funds (CEFs) may be one of the most misunderstood investments
Large-cap growth funds have held up better than most other types of stock funds in 2011
Exchange-traded funds that track China had been high-flyers over the past few years. This year has been a different story, featuring a double-digit percentage drop that has now run into a mild late-year bounce
These funds give portfolio managers considerable leeway in choosing among different asset classes
Global large caps offer a fairly conservative approach to investing in booming emerging markets
With bond yields so low, dividend-paying stocks can be a good alternative for income-seeking investors
Betting on commodities by buying futures contracts directly can be very risky. So having a core position in a fund that invests broadly in commodity-related businesses with some side positions tied specifically to agriculture and energy is probably the smartest move for the retail investor
Analysts say cloud computing will revolutionize the way we use technology
Who are leveraged exchange-traded funds meant for? The answer depends on your level of sophistication and investing time horizon
If exchange-traded funds sound like exotic investments to you, here's what you need to know
To help find funds that have a history of strong performance in rough times, we compiled a list of funds, spread among a range of asset classes, with impressive 10-year track records
Seventy billion shares of ETFs were traded last month, up 86 percent from July
According to some analysts, gold may hold the bulk of this run into 2012; at least three major investment banks hiked their price forecasts, though some do expect gold to pull back from what they see as current highly speculative levels. Here's a look at some of the leading gold ETFs
The bright side of the topsy-turvy situation, if there is one, is that it has added to the luster of smooth-performing investments. While such careful choices won't be leaders in hot markets, they provide a desirable safety net in downturns
Target date funds came under heavy fire for failing to protect older retirement investors after the 2008 market crash. But target date funds (TDFs) have performed better during the market's recent volatility -- thanks to lessons learned last time around
The traditional portfolio has long been anchored by mutual funds, but a growing number of investors are embracing a nimbler, cheaper alternative. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which debuted in the early 1990s, have attracted a substantial amount of assets in recent years, recently surpassing the $1 trillion mark. Here's why
With more than 1,000 ETFs traded in the United States covering just about every nook and cranny of the market, it can be a monumental task to sift through them all and determine which funds best fit your goals. Here are three sites to help you navigate the ETF world and find the right funds for you
Turn the clock back to late 2010, and all the talk in the investment community was about potential Armageddon in the municipal bond market. Midway through 2011, not a single rated municipality has defaulted on its debt. Here's what investors may expect moving forward
Some unusual funds are whacky and some adhere to overly focused strategies. However, others work fine for investors seeking to add spice to predictable portfolios that had been formulated by the book. And ideas for funds keep coming, even if they don't all get off the ground
Emerging markets bond funds offer generous yields, and expected growth rates in these countries are high. Plus, there is potential for their currencies to appreciate against the dollar. Here are a number of ways to invest in emerging markets debt
When a fund swells in size, 'asset bloat' becomes a concern. When a fund has a giant asset base, its manager may have trouble maneuvering in and out of positions and investing in certain securities. But the degree to which asset size affects a manager's ability to do his or her job depends on the type of fund and strategy its manager employs
With thousands of options to choose from, selecting the right mutual fund can be tough. While past performance is no guarantee of future success, one of the most proven strategies is selecting funds with solid long-term track records. Managers of these funds tend to invest for the long haul instead of making shortsighted bets or chasing the latest market trend. Here's our top 50
Screaming headlines about dramatic gains and losses in highly focused ETFs have heightened the impression that only the brave of heart can consider these upstart vehicles. The reality is that there are plenty of grown-up ETF choices for conservative investors, and the majority of invested ETF money isn't in the most exotic choices anyway
Widely followed investment guru Bill Gross filed to launch an exchange-traded fund version of his PIMCO Total Return Fund (symbol PTTAX), the world's largest mutual fund. Experts say this could be the start of something big
In the face of growing volatility in the markets, world-allocation funds are gaining appeal among investors. While many fund managers are limited to a particular size of company or slice of the market, managers of go-anywhere funds have the flexibility to do just that: spread their investments throughout different parts of the world and among various asset classes
Investors can learn a lot from looking at which funds fellow market participants are flooding into or shunning. By analyzing trends in fund flows -- which measure the amount of money entering and exiting different types of funds -- investors can sometimes glean which asset classes are overheating or unloved
Stocks and bonds rewarded investors with relatively robust performance in 2010, which means it's more likely that your mutual funds ended the year with gains instead of losses. That's great news for the net value of your portfolio, but combined with the market's strong start this year, the prospect of having to pay more in capital gains taxes in the future is not as appealing
Common wisdom says that over long periods of time, stocks generally produce higher returns than bonds. But over the past decade or so, fixed-income has won out. But rates could move higher in the near future. When rates rise, the prices of bonds fall -- and that spells trouble for many types of bond funds, including intermediate-term bond funds
Elephant-size stock mutual funds trumpet loudly and leave big footprints but often trail the more agile smaller funds that can hop around swiftly with the trends. Nonetheless, these behemoths remain core components in an individual's portfolio because reliability and brand-name holdings keep conservative investors coming back for more. Here are pros and cons to the biggest stock funds
Last year's three least popular stock fund categories were large-growth, large-blend, and large-value. Large-growth funds saw the most outflows, followed by large-blend and large-value, according to Morningstar. That means the three categories could be poised for strong gains in the next few years, experts say. With that in mind, here are the best large-blend funds for the long term
Jim O'Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, singled out the four BRIC countries in 2001, but now he's decided to drop the term BRIC. That's because he's adding Mexico, South Korea, Turkey, and Indonesia to the previous BRIC countries, and referring to the group as 'growth markets.' Should this new distinction matter to the individual investor?
Keep your eye on the target. That's what investors in target-date funds should do in 2011. These popular one-stop retirement vehicles with more than $300 billion in assets are designed to shift your holdings into more conservative fixed-rate instruments as the date included in their name draws near. Sounds basic enough, but there's more to it
An allocation to smaller companies can help diversify your portfolio and boost its returns over the long term. Over the past 10 years, the average mid-cap blend fund has gained an annualized 6 percent, while the S&P 500 Index has returned just under 2 percent annualized during the same time period.With that in mind, here are the best mid-cap blend funds for the long term
Active ETFs look a lot like actively-managed mutual funds. Both are headed by a manager who chooses securities, with the goal of beating a given benchmark index. Here are a few reasons to consider active ETFs
Large companies may occupy the limelight in your portfolio, but it's important that you also make room for mid- and small-cap stocks. These smaller companies, which include fast-growing businesses, can add a dose of risk and diversification to your investments. With that in mind, here are some of the best small-cap blend funds for the long term
The momentum of exchange-traded funds, which attracted new investor money at a rapid clip throughout 2010, is expected to continue unabated in 2011.
Foreign large-blend funds, which provide broad exposure to markets outside of the United States, can be used as a core holding for the international side of your portfolio. These funds have performed well over the long term, are rated highly among the industry's analysts, and have low minimum investment, making them accessible to all investors
The age-old indexing formula is changing at some ETF firms. Instead of following the conventional method of weighting companies based on market capitalization, so-called fundamental ETFs weight companies based on financial metrics such as revenue, dividends, and cash flow. Here's how these ETFs work and what role they could play your portfolio
Investors can buy individual muni bonds, state-specific bond funds, or national muni bond funds, which hold bonds from throughout the country. The more diversified your holdings, the less vulnerable you are to a hiccup in a single bond or single area of the country, Sjoblom says. With that in mind, here are the best intermediate municipal bond funds for the long term
Since the financial crisis began, large-cap growth has been one of the most unloved fund categories. That's mainly because the category's performance has been poor. Funds in this category invest in fast-growing companies, often in sectors like technology or healthcare. With that in mind, here are the best large-cap growth funds for the long term
Over long periods of time, large-value funds have consistently beaten large-growth funds. The funds may invest heavily in a single sector of the market or in a few companies they have strong convictions about, which can make them risky choices. With that in mind, here are large-cap value mutual funds for the long term
With the Fed's latest round of quantitative easing threatening to push bond yields to historic lows, the domestic bond market is looking less and less attractive to fixed-income investors. We asked a few bond experts to weigh in on the best ways to play the foreign bond market in your portfolio. Here's their input
The stock market panic of 2008 is still on the minds of most investors. That's why, even in the midst of a rally in the broader stock market, investors continue to retreat from stock funds. With that in mind, Standard & Poor's analysts singled out three funds they believe are solid picks for investors interested in high-quality stocks with low risk metrics
If you've ever weighed the pros and cons of investing in index funds, you're no doubt familiar with the argument that the lower cost of passively managed funds helps them beat more expensive actively managed funds in the long run. Here are several reasons why narrow cost differences shouldn't be your only consideration in selecting an index fund
I want to discuss how to make better sense of a fund's performance numbers. Past performance, as regulators require funds to say, is no guarantee of future results. It isn't, but past performance can help uncover risk
Exchange-traded funds have been gaining ground on mutual funds for some time now, especially with the increasing number of investors looking to ditch their pricey portfolio managers and branch out into the DIY realm. Building your portfolio from scratch might seem like a daunting task, but most of the same strategies that work with mutual funds also work for ETF investing
Gold and silver have benefited from investors worried about a currency crisis. Industrial metals like platinum and palladium have come roaring back in the midst of a slow but fairly steady global economic recovery. Until recently, it was only possible to invest in these metals separately. Now there's an ETF, Physical Precious Metal Basket Shares (symbol GLTR), that tracks all four
Adam Bold, founder of the Mutual Fund Store, an investment firm with more than $5 billion in assets, lays out five things to consider when you're buying a mutual fund
Steep losses from the market meltdown have many investment advisers reconsidering the way they run clients' portfolios. To add more diversification more advisers are looking to alternative investments. Alternative investing strategies have long been used by institutional investors, but now retail investors have the opportunity to buy into them through mutual funds and exchange-traded funds
For investors seeking balance during volatile times, balanced mutual funds make sense. With a typical mix of around 60 percent stocks and 40 percent fixed income, balanced funds split the difference between growth from stocks and income from bonds. Each portion has different managers, providing investments that function like two separate funds in one. Here's some balanced funds worth looking at
Even amid global uncertainty, emerging markets funds have surged in 2010. The average emerging market fund gained about 19 percent during the third quarter, according to Morningstar. U.S. stock funds gained an annualized 12 percent over the same time period. Here are U.S. News's best emerging markets funds for the long term.
A slower-than-expected recovery and regulation have depressed the shares of many bank stocks. With that in mind, here are three top-ranked financial sector funds. Each manager takes a unique approach to investing in the financial sector.
Index funds and exchange-traded funds can be a wise addition to almost any of portfolio, experts say, because they provide instant diversification and are generally cheap to own. Here are three ways investors can incorporate indexing in their portfolios
It pays to take a deep breath before making changes in your portfolio of mutual funds. The manager of a fund, the past performance, whether the fund lives up to its name, its volatility and its expenses should be considered carefully
Forget the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Larry Seruma, chief investment officer of Nile Capital Management, says many retail investors are missing a tremendous opportunity for growth in Africa. Here are Seruma's reasons for investing in Africa
With the latest forecast that China could take the reins as the world's largest economy as soon as 2030, experts are debating how its growth should be measured and if it will indeed outmuscle the United States. Regardless, China's powerful and growing influence on the world economy cannot be ignored. So, should you reserve a spot in your portfolio for China?
If you've never thought about devoting a slice of your fixed-income portfolio to high-yield bond funds, now may be a good time. Although they're much riskier than U.S. treasuries and investment-grade corporate bonds, a small allocation can benefit investors seeking more generous yields, some experts say.
Funds that focus on dividend-paying stocks vary in strategy. Some sit squarely in the value camp and contain bargain-priced stocks with above-average yields. Some search for dividends abroad. Others focus more on future dividend growth than on high current yields. Here is a sampling of funds -- including one ETF -- that take different approaches to satisfy dividend devotees
Generally, large-cap value funds invest in well-known companies that are undervalued and trading at a cheap price. The stocks within these funds often pay dividends. Such funds may not shine during strong market rallies, but the undervalued stocks in their portfolios can provide consistent returns over the long term. With that in mind, here are five top-ranked large-value funds
Believe it or not, there's a rally in real estate -- commercial real estate, that is. So far this year, real estate funds, which invest primarily in real estate investment trusts (REITs), have returned about 17 percent. And over the past year, they've gained almost 40 percent, according to Morningstar. Here's a few important things to know about investing in real estate funds
You've probably noticed some vacant office buildings. But what you may not have seen is commercial real estate's latest rally -- at least on Wall Street. Real estate funds, which primarily invest in real estate investment trusts (REITs), are the best-performing fund asset class so far this year. Is there still room for REITs to run? It depends on who you ask.
Investors still trust the safety of bond funds. June was another good month for fixed income. The Investment Company Institute reported that overall, mutual funds saw net inflows, mostly into bond funds
You've probably never heard the name Bernard Klawans. For four decades, the 89-year-old has managed a mutual fund single-handedly. Klawans has never had any formal training in money management or finance, yet he has been able to outperform some of the greatest minds in the fund business. The aptly named Valley Forge fund has weathered some of the worst market climates since its launch
As the Securities and Exchange Commission looks to push through its reform of mutual funds' 12b-1 fees, one nagging question looms large: Will billions of dollars simply disappear from the mutual fund industry?
Investors looking to buy exchange-traded funds face a tsunami of choices these days. With just over 1,000 ETFs traded in the United States, it can be a challenge to differentiate among them and determine which best fit your goals. Sure, you can get information directly from the individual providers. Here's a handful of websites can help you wade through and compare ETFs
For investors who have been scared off by recent volatility, here's three small-cap mutual funds that are highly ranked by S&P and have a low beta compared to their peers
For all the talk of a double-dip recession, there's a surprising amount of near-term interest in buying American. Just look at bond giant Pimco, where managers continue to move into U.S. Treasuries.
Emerging markets, with their hoped-for consumer booms and relatively modest debt burden compared to the developed world, should continue to draw inflows of all sorts.
Rather than have to put together and readjust a diversified portfolio over time, investors leave the task up to the fund manager. Target-date funds typically invest in a diversified mix of stocks, bonds and cash that becomes more conservative as the target date nears.
Just when investors thought the exchange-traded fund was the absolutely perfect investment to diversify their portfolios, turns out it can carry risks just like other investment vehicles.
Long-term investors are often loath to part with their mutual funds. Still, there are plenty of problem-plagued funds, and in many cases it's downright difficult to make a case for them. With that in mind, here's a list of the three worst-rated funds
Here's the leading edge of long-short, arbitrage, and other hedge fund strategies being turned into mutual funds over the past few years. It's a sign that asset managers may be wading further into more exotic terrain formerly occupied by hedge funds alone
It could be a rough one for some fund manager paychecks. That's because the Senate is expected to vote on a jobs bill that includes a big tax hike on private equity firms, hedge funds, and some real estate fund managers
Is the bond bubble real? The WSJ says yes after surveying bond-fund managers. It's been a huge year for bond funds, as fixed income funds felt the love along with a rush of inflows from investors who fled stocks. Unfortunately, the tide may be turning as more scared investors continue to pile into bonds in the face of a still-weak economy and the European debt crisis
Investors spooked by recent market volatility are considering conservative allocation funds as a way to ease back into stocks. These funds contain a mix of stocks and bonds, but generally invest less than half of their assets in equities. Instead, they focus on a range of fixed-income investments, cash, and sometimes commodities like gold. Here's five conservative allocation funds
First things first: emerging markets stock funds are still a volatile asset class. But if you break up the globe into different regions, the countries these funds invest in rank among the most attractive long-term prospects. Why?
When it comes to mutual fund investing, cost matters -- a lot. Studies show that over time, funds with highest relative returns are often the cheapest. What's more, funds with steep annual expenses tend to have weaker management, higher risk strategies, and fewer resources. So how much is too much to pay?
In the financial turmoil of the past decade, mutual fund investing became decidedly more complicated. After all, over the course of just 10 years, investors looked on as two bear markets ravaged the economy, as a pair of bull markets jolted stocks back to life, and as the Internet and housing bubbles inflated to their breaking points and then burst
For investors who would rather give professionals the keys to their portfolio, target-date funds are a simple solution. Investors select funds with a horizon date, which generally matches up with the year they turn 65, then leave the fund allocation, and rebalancing up to the fund company. That's the general idea, but investors should be aware that allocation strategies can vary significantly
With uncertainty about the economy and the government deficit, inflation expectations and the direction of interest rates, bond investors are in a pickle. So what to do? Should investors abandon bonds and bond funds or keep their money only in the shortest-term instruments to minimize risk of principal loss if interest rates rise?
For many fund companies, performance sells although some firms advertise low costs rather than performance. And when the fund's actual return isn't all that great, then 'relative' performance, is the thing to tout when you can. We need to read ads critically, including the tiny-print disclaimers in the footnotes. We also need to question how significant performance numbers are. Here's why
Investors, made nervous by two years of roller-coaster performance in the stock market, have been pouring money into bond funds over the last year, seeking a haven for their assets. But if interest rates start to rise next year -- as most expect they will -- these mutual funds that hold bonds may not look quite as profitable, experts say.
Investors will find that they face a changing landscape. Shifting demand, new investment choices, and fallout from the downturn mean that the most common type of fund owned by average Americans -- equity funds run by a stock-picking manager -- will experience new competition. Here's a look at a few of the most significant trends people shopping for mutual funds now will want to consider
Morningstar calculates what it calls investor returns. And the difference can be huge. That's because, by using 'dollar-weighted' returns to measure how your own dollars fared while in the fund, Morningstar takes into account an all-too-common investing error: buying funds when they're flying high and dumping them when they fall behind.
The utility stock has been a 'no-brainer' investment, an obvious choice of those foraging around to find greater income. In 2010, the prospects of this traditional vehicle may improve somewhat. Exciting, utilities stocks are not. Yet conservative and retired investors usually covet utilities not for any flash, but for steady dividends
Sometimes -- especially when a bear market awakens from its hibernation -- investors begin to feel the urge to take a flier on a higher-risk mutual fund. Which can be OK. Having a very small portion of your holdings in speculative choices can be acceptable so long as it doesn't involve little Johnny's tuition, next year's retirement expenses, or the bulk of your family nest egg.
Running with the herd is the most popular way to invest because everyone will commend you for heading in the right direction. Taking a contrarian view, on the other hand, opens you to ridicule from your peers. You may seem out of step, as if you missed getting the proper message or aren't smart enough to grasp the obvious.
The search for high yields presents a quandary for income investors. If interest rates rise in the future, the value of high-yield, longer-term bonds bought now will decline. But if a high-dividend-paying stock is chosen, the investor needs to be relatively sure that today's impressive dividend is here to stay. Here's high-quality ETFs with predictable futures
There aren't a lot of investment experts who will tell you what they said 10 years ago and just how much of it turned out to be right. But John C. Bogle isn't your average investment expert. The 80-year-old founder of Vanguard has been preaching a simple, disciplined approach to managing money since he graduated from Princeton and got a job at Wellington Management in the 1950s
Here are 10 great funds you've probably never heard of. All of them are small funds (only one has more than $100 million under management) that receive at least an 8 out of 10 using U.S. News's recently unveiled Mutual Fund Score.
I often read about avoiding high expenses in mutual funds, but when I talked to my broker he said expenses don't matter because rates of return have to be stated after all expenses and fees. So, if I have a return of 7 percent a year and a lower-cost fund also has a return of 7 percent, it's all the same to me. Is this correct?
Since the dawn of indexing, a debate has raged between indexing diehards -- who think passive investing is the only way to match the market over time -- and those who believe that real, live stock pickers can do the job better. It may just come down to your personality. Do I trust a manager to pick the best stocks or put my faith in an index fund?
More than $1 trillion is invested worldwide in exchange-traded funds and those assets continue to grow as new ETFs are introduced and investors discover the concept. ETFs replicate indexes or sectors with a goal of low-cost diversification. ETFs are traded on an exchange so you can buy and sell during market hours, unlike a mutual fund in which you trade shares at the end of the day.
Most socially responsible mutual funds are born of a desire to help the environment, slow the spread of violence, or boycott certain practices. Parnassus Workplace (PARWX), on the other hand, sprang from the stocks of publicly traded companies that made Fortune's list of the '100 Best Companies to Work For'
For most investors, the past 10 years have been sobering. Speculation drove growth stocks sky-high culminating in the tech-bubble burst. Later on, once trusted financials companies came to the brink of collapse. Times have changed. In turn, so should your investing habits. Here are some tips on becoming a smarter, more frugal mutual fund investor.
The battle of growth versus value investing rages on in 2010. These distinct investment personalities move in cycles, one dominating for a period before being overtaken by the other. And then it starts all over again. Here's a look at potential growth and value investments.
There is still promise abroad in 2010, yet don't get carried away. Dynamic years are often been followed by dismal ones in the quixotic world investment mix. It increasingly makes sense to include international stocks or mutual funds as part of your personal portfolio, but you should do so in moderation.
When mutual funds step off the beaten path, there's no telling what will happen. In the past, for example, oddball funds have fought the war on terror, tried to prop up the sky, and fantasized about swinging a presidential election. And although those particular funds failed, others have stepped in to carry the torch and preserve a long and proud tradition of eccentric investing styles. Here are the 10 quirkiest funds we could find
Forget about resting easy. Target-date funds, billed as confidence-building vehicles that gradually shift your holdings into more conservative fixed-rate instruments as their date nears, have caused some sleepless nights. Investors stashed money in these one-stop retirement plans so they didn't have to worry about making their own allocation decisions. But it has become clear they need to better understand the basic
Let's get the party started: An overseas run-up in real estate funds is rocking. International real estate funds are up 38 percent in 2009, or about 100 percent above their market bottom in March, according to Lipper Inc. Global real estate funds that also include U.S. companies are up 28 percent this year.
The PIMCO fund family gets a gold star for insight and early detection of the housing and mortgage debacles, resulting in strong results throughout many of its funds over the past three years. 'PIMCO and the strength of its bond portfolios has really stood out as a perceived advantage for it during the downturn'
In a recent survey, more than 3,000 financial advisers weighed in with their picks of the top fund families. Criteria included consistency, ethics, trustworthiness, sophistication, and social consciousness. The survey was commissioned by Horsesmouth, an online adviser community and kasina, a financial services consulting firm. But since straight rankings reveal only so much, We asked a handful of financial advisers which fund families they favor and why.
After spending much of last year in the doghouse, mutual fund managers have now had two quarters in 2009 to regain the faith of investors. Many of last year's losers are now posting solid gains over the S&P 500
Touted as a revolution in transparency, cost, and access to exotic investments, ETFs are now being slammed for inefficiencies, hidden fees, and opaque structures. Some experts argue that ETFs are just the latest means for investment advisers to hoist flawed products on unsuspecting customers. ...
Many retirement savers think they can put their investment choices on cruise control if they use a target-date fund. These funds offer a mix of stocks, bonds, and cash that the fund manager automatically adjusts to become more conservative over time, based on the retirement date the participant selects. But it's best to take a look under the hood before stashing your nest egg in a target-date fund. Here are some tips for finding a target-date fund that is right for you.
Categorywise, large growth, midsized growth, and small growth funds have fared the best so far this year (although small companies have led the rally over the past three months). But not all of the top performing funds fall into one of those categories. Here's a look at some of the front-runners among diversified U.S. stock funds ... But beware ...
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