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Is Hennessy Gas Utility Index Fund (GASFX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

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Investors in search of an Index fund might want to consider looking at Hennessy Gas Utility Index Fund (GASFX - Free Report) . GASFX has no Zacks Mutual Fund Rank, but we have been able to look into other metrics like performance, volatility, and cost.

History of Fund/Manager

GASFX is a part of the Hennessy family of funds, a company based out of Novato, CA. Hennessy Gas Utility Index Fund made its debut in May of 1989, and since then, GASFX has accumulated about $797.84 million in assets, per the most up-to-date date available. The fund's current manager, Ryan C. Kelley, has been in charge of the fund since March of 2013.

Performance

Obviously, what investors are looking for in these funds is strong performance relative to their peers. GASFX has a 5-year annualized total return of 4.87% and is in the middle third among its category peers. If you're interested in shorter time frames, do not dismiss looking at the fund's 3-year annualized total return of 7.15%, 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. GASFX's standard deviation over the past three years is 10.32% compared to the category average of 7.63%. Over the past 5 years, the standard deviation of the fund is 11.23% compared to the category average of 8.93%. 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. GASFX lost 38.57% in the most recent bear market and outperformed its peer group by 7.15%. This makes the fund a possibly better choice than its peers during a sliding market environment.

Nevertheless, with a 5-year beta of 0.51, the fund is likely to be less 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 negative alpha over the past 5 years of -0.07, which shows that managers in this portfolio find it difficult to pick securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

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, GASFX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 1.01% compared to the category average of 0.76%. Looking at the fund from a cost perspective, GASFX is actually more expensive than its peers.

While the minimum initial investment for the product is $2,500, investors should also note that there is no minimum for each subsequent investment.

Bottom Line

Don't stop here for your research on Index funds. We also have plenty more on our site in order to help you find the best possible fund for your portfolio. Make sure to check out www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds for more information about the world of funds, and feel free to compare GASFX to its peers as well for additional information. For analysis of the rest of your portfolio, make sure to visit Zacks.com for our full suite of tools which will help you investigate all of your stocks and funds in one place.


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