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Is T. Rowe Price Science & Tech Fund (PRSCX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

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If you have been looking for Sector - Tech fund category, a potential starting could be T. Rowe Price Science & Tech Fund (PRSCX - Free Report) . PRSCX possesses a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 3 (Hold), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

The world of Sector - Tech funds is an area filled with options, and PRSCX is one of them. Sector - Tech mutual funds allow investors to own a stake in a notoriously volatile sector with a much more diversified approach. Tech companies can be in any number of industries such as semiconductors, software, internet, networking just to name a few.

History of Fund/Manager

PRSCX is a part of the T. Rowe Price family of funds, a company based out of Baltimore, MD. The T. Rowe Price Science & Tech Fund made its debut in September of 1987 and PRSCX has managed to accumulate roughly $3.93 billion in assets, as of the most recently available information. Kennard W. Allen is the fund's current manager and has held that role since January of 2009.

Performance

Obviously, what investors are looking for in these funds is strong performance relative to their peers. This fund has delivered a 5-year annualized total return of 22.96%, and it sits in the top third among its category peers. But if you are looking for a shorter time frame, it is also worth looking at its 3-year annualized total return of 17.66%, which places it in the middle 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. The standard deviation of PRSCX over the past three years is 14.44% compared to the category average of 12%. Looking at the past 5 years, the fund's standard deviation is 12.97% compared to the category average of 13.69%. This makes the fund less volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

It's always important to be aware of the downsides to any future investment, so one should not discount the risks that come with this segment. PRSCX lost 51.66% in the most recent bear market and outperformed its peer group by 1.15%. This could mean that the fund is a better choice than comparable funds during a bear market.

And for investors concerned about the potential drawdown in a really bad calendar year, we can look back to 2008 for that figure. The fund lost over 43.79%, its worst calendar year in a decade.

Nevertheless, with a 5-year beta of 1.12, the fund is likely to be more volatile than the market average. Because alpha represents a portfolio's performance on a risk-adjusted basis relative to a benchmark, which is the S&P 500 in this case, one should pay attention to this metric as well. The fund has produced a positive alpha over the past 5 years of 5.41, which shows that managers in this portfolio are skilled in picking securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Holdings

Examining the equity holdings of a mutual fund is also a valuable exercise. This can show us how the manager is applying their stated methodology, as well as if there are any inherent biases in their approach. For this particular fund, the focus is principally on equities that are traded in the United States.

This fund is currently holding about 89.76% stock in stocks, which have an average market capitalization of $161.64 billion. The fund has the heaviest exposure to the following market sectors:

  1. Technology
  2. Other

Turnover is 58.4%, which means this fund makes fewer trades than its comparable peers.

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, PRSCX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.81% compared to the category average of 1.41%. Looking at the fund from a cost perspective, PRSCX is actually cheaper than its peers.

This fund requires a minimum initial investment of $2,500, and each subsequent investment should be at least $100.

Bottom Line

Overall, T. Rowe Price Science & Tech Fund PRSCX has a neutral Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively strong performance, average downside risk, and lower fees, this fund looks like a somewhat average choice for investors right now.

For addition information on the Sector - Tech 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 PRSCX 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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