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Is T. Rowe Price Japan Fund (PRJPX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

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If investors are looking at the Japan - Equity fund category, T. Rowe Price Japan Fund (PRJPX - Free Report) could be a potential option. PRJPX carries a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 1 (Strong Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

PRJPX is part of the Japan - Equity section, which is a segment that boasts many possible selections. Japan - Equity mutual funds mostly invest in Japan-based companies, which is one of the world's richest and most diversified economies. Japan's focus on exports allows them to be somewhat exposed to global economic trends, but investors should note that the country's lack of natural resources can also have an impact.

History of Fund/Manager

T. Rowe Price is based in Baltimore, MD, and is the manager of PRJPX. Since T. Rowe Price Japan Fund made its debut in December of 1991, PRJPX has garnered more than $690.47 million in assets. The fund's current manager, Archibald Ciganer, has been in charge of the fund since December of 2013.

Performance

Of course, investors look for strong performance in funds. This fund has delivered a 5-year annualized total return of 17.15%, and it sits in the top third among its category peers. Investors who prefer analyzing shorter time frames should look at its 3-year annualized total return of 14.36%, 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. Compared to the category average of 15.79%, the standard deviation of PRJPX over the past three years is 17.94%. Looking at the past 5 years, the fund's standard deviation is 15.01% compared to the category average of 13.55%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

Investors should note that the fund has a 5-year beta of 0.75, so it is likely going to be less 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. PRJPX has generated a positive alpha over the past five years of 5.27, demonstrating that managers in this portfolio are skilled in picking securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Expenses

For investors, taking a closer look at cost-related metrics is key, since costs are increasingly important for mutual fund investing. Competition is heating up in this space, and a lower cost product will likely outperform its otherwise identical counterpart, all things being equal. In terms of fees, PRJPX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.96% compared to the category average of 1.46%. PRJPX is actually cheaper than its peers when you consider factors like cost.

Investors should also note that the minimum initial investment for the product is $2,500 and that each subsequent investment needs to be at $100.

Bottom Line

Overall, T. Rowe Price Japan Fund ( PRJPX ) 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.

Your research on the Japan - Equity segment doesn't have to stop here. You can check out all the great mutual fund tools we have to offer by going to www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds to see the additional features we offer as well 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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