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Is USAA World Growth Fund (USAWX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

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Having trouble finding a Global - Equity fund? USAA World Growth Fund (USAWX - Free Report) is a possible starting point. USAWX holds a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 3 (Hold), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

We note that USAWX is a Global - Equity option, an investment area loaded with different options. While Global - Equity mutual funds invest their assets in large markets--think the U.S., Europe, and Japan--they aren't limited by geography. Their investment technique is one that leverages the global economy in order to offer stable returns.

History of Fund/Manager

USAWX finds itself in the USAA Group family, based out of San Antonio, TX. USAA World Growth Fund debuted in October of 1992. Since then, USAWX has accumulated assets of about $1.42 billion, according to the most recently available information. The fund's current manager, Roger Morley, has been in charge of the fund since October of 2009.

Performance

Investors naturally seek funds with strong performance. USAWX has a 5-year annualized total return of 9.25% 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 13.89%, 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. USAWX's standard deviation over the past three years is 11.55% compared to the category average of 10.41%. Looking at the past 5 years, the fund's standard deviation is 11.7% compared to the category average of 10.44%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

One cannot ignore the volatility of this segment, however, as it is always important for investors to remember the downside to any potential investment. In the most recent bear market, USAWX lost 47.96% and outperformed its peer group by 5%. 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 0.92, 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. With a negative alpha of -1.37, 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, USAWX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 1.09% compared to the category average of 1.19%. From a cost perspective, USAWX is actually cheaper than its peers.

While the minimum initial investment for the product is $3,000, investors should also note that each subsequent investment needs to be at least $50.

Bottom Line

Overall, USAA World Growth Fund ( USAWX ) has a neutral Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively strong performance, average downside risk, and lower fees, this fund looks like a somewhat average choice for investors right now.

Don't stop here for your research on Global - Equity 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 USAWX to its peers as well for additional information. If you want to check out our stock reports as well, make sure to go to Zacks.com to see all of the great tools we have to offer, including our time-tested Zacks Rank.


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