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Some mutual fund shops will throw anything at the wall to see what sticks; others carefully, strategically, and rarely produce new product offerings. American Funds definitely falls under the latter category. But this fund-industry stalwart is finally cranking up its gears, with plans to introduce its first new equity fund in almost a decade.
The fund shop recently announced that it would launch the American Funds International Growth & Income Fund. This fund will invest primarily outside of the U.S., in both developed and emerging markets. Although its specific holdings aren't yet known, the fund will focus mainly on large-cap, dividend-paying securities, with likely candidates including PetroChina (NYSE: PTR ) and Sasol (NYSE: SSL ) . Domestic stocks like Altria (NYSE: MO ) and ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) will be limited to 10% of the portfolio.
Capital Research & Management, the advisor for the family of American Funds, will tap three existing portfolio counselors to run the new fund. These three individuals all have at least 15 years of experience at the firm, so the fund certainly won't suffer from a lack of seasoned management.
Worth a look
In general, I'm not a big fan of brand-spanking-new mutual funds. It's hard to judge the merits of an investment that lacks a relevant history or managerial track record. Newer funds are typically more expensive, since they don't have the benefit of a large asset base to defray costs. Investors are typically better off sticking with time-tested, proven funds instead of new, undeveloped ones.
That said, I'm going to make an exception here; I actually think this new fund could be worth investing in right off the bat. For one thing, since American Funds is so careful about launching new funds, this offering is not based on trend-chasing, but on a legitimate need to fill a hole in the firm's fund lineup. The fund's managers are all veterans at Capital Research & Management, with a proven history of solid performance.
As long as the fund ends up being reasonably priced, and investors can get access to it without paying a front-end load, I think it could be a great fit for folks who want income-producing foreign stocks. A great new fund idea that warrants a second look doesn't come along every day, so I'd recommend spending some time getting to know International Growth & Income once it becomes available.
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