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Is Plumb Balanced (PLBBX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

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On the lookout for an Allocation Balanced fund? Starting with Plumb Balanced (PLBBX - Free Report) is one possibility. PLBBX carries a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 1 (Strong Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

The world of Zacks' Allocation Balanced funds is an area filled with options, such as PLBBX. These funds like to invest in a variety of asset types, finding a balance between stocks, bonds, cash, and sometimes even precious metals and commodities; they are mostly categorized by their respective asset allocation. For investors, Allocation Balanced funds can provide an entry point into diversified mutual funds, and present core holding options for a portfolio of funds.

History of Fund/Manager

PLBBX finds itself in the Wisconsin Cap family, based out of Madison, WI. Since Plumb Balanced made its debut in May of 2007, PLBBX has garnered more than $97.04 million in assets. Thomas G. Plumb is the fund's current manager and has held that role since May of 2007.

Performance

Of course, investors look for strong performance in funds. PLBBX has a 5-year annualized total return of 9.11% 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 13.68%, 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 7.14%, the standard deviation of PLBBX over the past three years is 9.88%. Looking at the past 5 years, the fund's standard deviation is 9.23% compared to the category average of 7.27%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

Investors should always remember the downsides to a potential investment, and this segment carries some risks one should be aware of. In PLBBX's case, the fund lost 37.08% in the most recent bear market and underperformed its peer group by 0.67%. These results could imply that the fund is a worse choice than its peers during a sliding market environment.

Investors should not forget about beta, an important way to measure a mutual fund's risk compared to the market as a whole. PLBBX has a 5-year beta of 0.76, which means it is likely to be less volatile than the market average. Alpha is an additional metric to take into consideration, since it represents a portfolio's performance on a risk-adjusted basis relative to a benchmark, which in this case, is the S&P 500. Over the past 5 years, the fund has a positive alpha of 0.64. This means that managers in this portfolio are skilled in picking securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Holdings

Investigating 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 largely on equities that are traded in the United States.

The mutual fund currently has 95.83% of its holdings in stocks, with an average market capitalization of $145.43 billion. The fund has the heaviest exposure to the following market sectors:

  1. Other
  2. Technology
Turnover is about 37%, so those in charge of the fund make fewer trades than the average comparable fund.

Expenses

As competition heats up in the mutual fund market, costs become increasingly important. Compared to its otherwise identical counterpart, a low-cost product will be an outperformer, all other things being equal. Thus, taking a closer look at cost-related metrics is vital for investors. In terms of fees, PLBBX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 1.17% compared to the category average of 0.88%. PLBBX is actually more expensive than its peers when you consider factors like cost.

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

Bottom Line

Overall, Plumb Balanced ( PLBBX ) has a high Zacks Mutual Fund rank, strong performance, average downside risk, and higher fees compared to its peers.

Your research on the Allocation Balanced 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. 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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