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Is Wasatch Ultra Growth (WAMCX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

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Having trouble finding a Small Cap Growth fund? Wasatch Ultra Growth (WAMCX - Free Report) is a possible starting point. WAMCX carries a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 3 (Hold), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

WAMCX is one of many different Small Cap Growth funds to choose from. Small Cap Growth mutual funds build portfolios around stocks with markets caps under $2 billion and large growth opportunities. Additionally, these portfolios typically highlight smaller companies in promising markets and industries.

History of Fund/Manager

WAMCX finds itself in the Wasatch family, based out of Salt Lake City, UT. Wasatch Ultra Growth made its debut in August of 1992, and since then, WAMCX has accumulated about $623.44 million in assets, per the most up-to-date date available. John Malooly is the fund's current manager and has held that role since January of 2012.

Performance

Obviously, what investors are looking for in these funds is strong performance relative to their peers. This fund carries a 5-year annualized total return of 14.38%, and is 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 25.88%, 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. Over the past three years, WAMCX's standard deviation comes in at 17.56%, compared to the category average of 16.7%. Over the past 5 years, the standard deviation of the fund is 18.47% compared to the category average of 16.71%. 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, WAMCX lost 62.56% and underperformed comparable funds by 9.48%. This might suggest that the fund is a worse choice than its peers during a bear market.

Investors should not forget about beta, an important way to measure a mutual fund's risk compared to the market as a whole. WAMCX has a 5-year beta of 1.18, which means it is likely to be more 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 positive alpha over the past 5 years of 2.47, which shows 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 principally on equities that are traded in the United States.

Right now, 91.92% of this mutual fund's holdings are stocks, with an average market capitalization of $3.64 billion. The fund has the heaviest exposure to the following market sectors:

  1. Other
  2. Technology
  3. Health
  4. Industrial Cyclical
Turnover is 18%, which means this fund makes fewer trades than its comparable peers.

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, WAMCX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 1.20% compared to the category average of 1.22%. Looking at the fund from a cost perspective, WAMCX is actually cheaper than its peers.

Investors need to be aware that with this product, the minimum initial investment is $2,000; each subsequent investment needs to be at least $100.

Bottom Line

Overall, Wasatch Ultra Growth ( WAMCX ) has a neutral Zacks Mutual Fund rank, strong performance, average downside risk, and lower fees compared to its peers.

For additional information on this product, or to compare it to other mutual funds in the Small Cap Growth, make sure to go to www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds 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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