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

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Any investors hoping to find an Allocation Balanced fund might consider looking past Plumb Balanced (PLBBX - Free Report) . PLBBX possesses a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 4 (Sell), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Objective

PLBBX is classified in the Allocation Balanced segment by Zacks, which is an area full of possibilities. Here, investors are able to get a good head start with diversified mutual funds, and play around with core holding options for a portfolio of funds. Allocation Balanced funds look to invest across a balance of asset types, like stocks, bonds, and cash, though including precious metals or commodities is not unusual; these funds are mostly categorized by their respective asset allocation.

History of Fund/Manager

Wisconsin Cap is responsible for PLBBX, and the company is based out of Madison, WI. Since Plumb Balanced made its debut in May of 2007, PLBBX has garnered more than $112.96 million in assets. The fund is currently managed by Thomas G. Plumb who has been in charge of the fund since May of 2007.

Performance

Investors naturally seek funds with strong performance. This fund carries a 5-year annualized total return of 5.74%, 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 6.28%, 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. PLBBX's standard deviation over the past three years is 12.61% compared to the category average of 8.06%. Over the past 5 years, the standard deviation of the fund is 10.97% compared to the category average of 7.91%. 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, PLBBX lost 37.07% and underperformed its peer group by 1%. This means that the fund could possibly be a worse choice than its peers during a down market environment.

Investors should note that the fund has a 5-year beta of 0.75, so it is likely going to be less volatile than the market at large. 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. With a positive alpha of 0.32, 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 mostly on equities that are traded in the United States.

As of the last filing date, the mutual fund has 98.08% of its assets in stocks, and these companies have an average market capitalization of $169.68 billion. The fund has the heaviest exposure to the following market sectors:

  1. Other
  2. Technology
Turnover is 58%, which means, on average, the fund makes fewer trades than comparable funds.

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 1.14% compared to the category average of 0.92%. Looking at the fund from a cost perspective, PLBBX is actually more expensive than its peers.

Investors need to be aware that with this product, the minimum initial investment is $2,500; each subsequent investment needs to be at least $100.

Bottom Line

Overall, Plumb Balanced ( PLBBX ) has a low Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively strong performance, average downside risk, and higher fees, Plumb Balanced ( PLBBX ) looks like a poor potential choice for investors right now.

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. Want to learn even more? We have a full suite of tools on stocks that you can use to find the best choices for your portfolio too, no matter what kind of investor you are.


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