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Is Firsthand Technology Opportunities (TEFQX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

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If you've been stuck searching for Sector - Tech funds, consider Firsthand Technology Opportunities (TEFQX - Free Report) as a possibility. TEFQX bears a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 1 (Strong Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

We note that TEFQX is a Sector - Tech option, and this area is loaded with many options. Found in a wide number of industries such as semiconductors, software, internet, and networking, tech companies are everywhere. Thus, Sector - Tech mutual funds that invest in technology let investors own a stake in a notoriously volatile sector, but with a much more diversifies approach.

History of Fund/Manager

Firsthand is based in San Jose, CA, and is the manager of TEFQX. Since Firsthand Technology Opportunities made its debut in September of 1999, TEFQX has garnered more than $95.30 million in assets. The fund is currently managed by Kevin M. Landis who has been in charge of the fund since September of 1999.

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 22.4%, 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 20.08%, 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. TEFQX's standard deviation over the past three years is 15.62% compared to the category average of 15.17%. The standard deviation of the fund over the past 5 years is 15.63% compared to the category average of 14.49%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

One cannot ignore the volatility of this segment, however, as it is always important for investors to remember the downside to any potential investment. In the most recent bear market, TEFQX lost 50.48% and outperformed its peer group by 2.83%. This could mean that the fund is a better choice than comparable funds during a bear market.

Nevertheless, investors should also note that the fund has a 5-year beta of 1.09, which means 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. With a positive alpha of 6.19, managers in this portfolio are skilled in picking securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Expenses

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, TEFQX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 1.85% compared to the category average of 1.36%. So, TEFQX is actually more expensive than its peers from a cost perspective.

While the minimum initial investment for the product is $2,000, investors should also note that each subsequent investment needs to be at least $50.

Bottom Line

Overall, Firsthand Technology Opportunities has a high Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively strong performance, average downside risk, and higher fees, this fund looks like a good potential choice for investors right now.

For additional information on this product, or to compare it to other mutual funds in the Sector - Tech, make sure to go to www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds for additional information. And don't forget, Zacks has all of your needs covered on the equity side too! Make sure to check out Zacks.com for more information on our screening capabilities, Rank, and all our articles as well.




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