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Is Van Eck Emerging Markets A (GBFAX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

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Any investors hoping to find a Non US - Equity fund could think about starting with Van Eck Emerging Markets A (GBFAX - Free Report) . GBFAX carries a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 1 (Strong Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.


Zacks categorizes GBFAX as Non US - Equity, a segment stacked high with options. Non US - Equity mutual funds like to invest in companies outside of the United States, an important characteristic since global mutual funds are known to keep a good portion of their portfolio stateside. These kinds of funds can often extend across all cap levels, and will typically allocate their investments between emerging and developed markets.

History of Fund/Manager

Van Eck is responsible for GBFAX, and the company is based out of New York, NY. Since Van Eck Emerging Markets A made its debut in January of 1994, GBFAX has garnered more than $216.47 million in assets. The fund's current manager, David A. Semple, has been in charge of the fund since October of 2003.


Investors naturally seek funds with strong performance. This fund has delivered a 5-year annualized total return of 7.89%, and it sits in the middle 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 11.73%, 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. Compared to the category average of 9.59%, the standard deviation of GBFAX over the past three years is 16.06%. The standard deviation of the fund over the past 5 years is 14.51% compared to the category average of 11.95%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

Investors cannot discount the risks to this segment though, as it is always important to remember the downside for any potential investment. In the most recent bear market, GBFAX lost 73.44% and underperformed its peer group by 15.06%. This makes the fund a possibly worse choice than its peers during a sliding market environment.

Nevertheless, with a 5-year beta of 1, the fund is likely to be as volatile as the market average. 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. GBFAX has generated a positive alpha over the past five years of 0.49, demonstrating that managers in this portfolio find it easy to pick securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.


Costs are increasingly important for mutual fund investing, and particularly as competition heats up in this market. And all things being equal, a lower cost product will outperform its otherwise identical counterpart, so taking a closer look at these metrics is key for investors. In terms of fees, GBFAX is a load fund. It has an expense ratio of 1.48% compared to the category average of 1.29%. GBFAX is actually more expensive than its peers when you consider factors like cost.

Investors need to be aware that with this product, the minimum initial investment is $1,000; each subsequent investment needs to be at least $100.

Bottom Line

Overall, Van Eck Emerging Markets A has a high Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively similar performance, average downside risk, and higher fees, Van Eck Emerging Markets A looks like a good potential choice for investors right now.

For additional information on the Non US - Equity area of the mutual fund world, make sure to check out There, you can see more about the ranking process, and dive even deeper into GBFAX too for additional information. Zacks provides a full suite of tools to help you analyze your portfolio - both funds and stocks - in the most efficient way possible.

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