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Is DFA Continental Small Company I (DFCSX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

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If investors are looking at the Europe - Equity fund category, DFA Continental Small Company I (DFCSX - Free Report) could be a potential option. DFCSX possesses a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 2 (Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

DFCSX is part of the Europe - Equity section, a segment that boasts an array of many different selections. Europe - Equity mutual funds are known for investing their assets in stocks based in countries like Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain; these funds provide slow growth that can offer great levels of stability.

History of Fund/Manager

Dimensional is based in Austin, TX, and is the manager of DFCSX. DFA Continental Small Company I debuted in April of 1988. Since then, DFCSX has accumulated assets of about $479.88 million, according to the most recently available information. A team of investment professionals is the fund's current manager.

Performance

Obviously, what investors are looking for in these funds is strong performance relative to their peers. This fund in particular has delivered a 5-year annualized total return of 10.72%, and is in the top third among its category peers. If you're interested in shorter time frames, do not dismiss looking at the fund's 3-year annualized total return of 5.18%, which places it in the top third during this time-frame.

When looking at a fund's performance, it is also important to note the standard deviation of the returns. The lower the standard deviation, the less volatility the fund experiences. Over the past three years, DFCSX's standard deviation comes in at 24.33%, compared to the category average of 20.25%. The fund's standard deviation over the past 5 years is 20.51% compared to the category average of 17.18%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

The fund has a 5-year beta of 1.16, so investors should note that it is hypothetically more volatile than the market at large. Another factor to consider is alpha, as it reflects a portfolio's performance on a risk-adjusted basis relative to a benchmark-in this case, the S&P 500. Over the past 5 years, the fund has a negative alpha of -5.15. This means that managers in this portfolio find it difficult to pick securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Expenses

As competition heats up in the mutual fund market, costs become increasingly important. Compared to its otherwise identical counterpart, a low-cost product will be an outperformer, all other things being equal. Thus, taking a closer look at cost-related metrics is vital for investors. In terms of fees, DFCSX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.54% compared to the category average of 1.33%. Looking at the fund from a cost perspective, DFCSX is actually cheaper than its peers.

This fund requires a minimum initial investment of $0, while there is no minimum for each subsequent investment.

Bottom Line

Overall, DFA Continental Small Company I ( DFCSX ) has a high Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively strong performance, average downside risk, and lower fees, this fund looks like a good potential choice for investors right now.

For additional information on the Europe - Equity area of the mutual fund world, make sure to check out www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds. There, you can see more about the ranking process, and dive even deeper into DFCSX too for additional information. Want to learn even more? We have a full suite of tools on stocks that you can use to find the best choices for your portfolio too, no matter what kind of investor you are.


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