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Is Permanent Portfolio Fund (PRPFX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

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Any investors hoping to find an Allocation Balanced fund could think about starting with Permanent Portfolio Fund (PRPFX - Free Report) . PRPFX holds a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 2 (Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

PRPFX is one of many Zacks' Allocation Balanced mutual funds to pick from. Allocation Balanced funds seek to invest in a balance of asset types, like stocks, bonds, and cash, though including precious metals or commodities is not unusual; these funds are mostly categorized by their respective asset allocation. Investors utilize Allocation Balanced funds as a way to get a good start with diversified mutual funds, as well as for core holdings in a portfolio of funds.

History of Fund/Manager

PRPFX is a part of the Permanent family of funds, a company based out of San Francisco, CA. Permanent Portfolio Fund made its debut in December of 1982, and since then, PRPFX has accumulated about $2.36 billion in assets, per the most up-to-date date available. The fund is currently managed by Michael J. Cuggino who has been in charge of the fund since May of 2003.

Performance

Of course, investors look for strong performance in funds. PRPFX has a 5-year annualized total return of 1.32% and it sits in the bottom third among its category peers. Investors who prefer analyzing shorter time frames should look at its 3-year annualized total return of 4.85%, 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 7.14%, the standard deviation of PRPFX over the past three years is 7.1%. The fund's standard deviation over the past 5 years is 6.98% compared to the category average of 7.27%. This makes the fund less 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 PRPFX's case, the fund lost 15.14% in the most recent bear market and outperformed its peer group by 21.26%. This makes the fund a possibly better choice than its peers during a sliding market environment.

Investors should note that the fund has a 5-year beta of 0.33, 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. PRPFX's 5-year performance has produced a negative alpha of -1.72, which means managers in this portfolio find it difficult to pick 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, PRPFX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.83% compared to the category average of 0.88%. Looking at the fund from a cost perspective, PRPFX is actually cheaper than its peers.

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, Permanent Portfolio Fund ( PRPFX ) has a high Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively weak performance, average downside risk, and lower fees, this fund looks like a great potential choice for investors right now.

For additional information on the Allocation Balanced 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 PRPFX too for additional information. If you are more of a stock investor, make sure to also check out our Zacks Rank, and our full suite of tools we have available for novice and professional investors alike.




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