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Is USAA Science & Technology Fund (USSCX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

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Any investors hoping to find a Sector - Tech fund could think about starting with USAA Science & Technology Fund (USSCX - Free Report) . USSCX has a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 1 (Strong Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

USSCX is part of the Sector - Tech category, which boasts an array of different possible selections. With a much more diversified approach, Sector - Tech mutual funds give investors a way to own a stake in a notoriously risky sector. Tech companies are in various industries like semiconductors, software, internet, and networking, among others.

History of Fund/Manager

USSCX is a part of the USAA Group family of funds, a company based out of San Antonio, TX. The USAA Science & Technology Fund made its debut in August of 1997 and USSCX has managed to accumulate roughly $1.31 billion in assets, as of the most recently available information. The fund's current manager is a team of investment professionals.

Performance

Of course, investors look for strong performance in funds. This fund in particular has delivered a 5-year annualized total return of 14.18%, and it sits in the top 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 16.83%, 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. Over the past three years, USSCX's standard deviation comes in at 16.54%, compared to the category average of 13.14%. Looking at the past 5 years, the fund's standard deviation is 15.61% compared to the category average of 13.14%. 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 the most recent bear market, USSCX lost 52.59% and outperformed its peer group by 1%. This means that the fund could possibly be a better choice than its peers during a down 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. USSCX has a 5-year beta of 1.17, which means it is likely to be more 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. The fund has produced a positive alpha over the past 5 years of 2.57, which shows that managers in this portfolio are skilled in picking securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

Holdings

Examining 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.

The mutual fund currently has 95.3% of its holdings in stocks, with an average market capitalization of $164.04 billion. The fund has the heaviest exposure to the following market sectors:

  1. Technology
  2. Health
Turnover is 64%, which means this fund makes fewer trades than its comparable peers.

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, USSCX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 1.03% compared to the category average of 1.30%. Looking at the fund from a cost perspective, USSCX is actually cheaper than its peers.

This fund requires a minimum initial investment of $3,000, and each subsequent investment should be at least $50.

Bottom Line

Overall, USAA Science & Technology Fund ( USSCX ) has a high Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively strong performance, average downside risk, and lower fees, this fund looks like a good potential choice for investors right now.

Your research on the Sector - Tech 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. 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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