I haven't seen the NASCAR comedy Talladega Nights yet, but I already know it's hilarious. It stars Will Ferrell, after all, the erstwhile SNL-er who long ago proved that -- with the possible exceptions of Larry David and Steve Carell -- he's the world's funniest human. I mean, c'mon: Old School? Elf? Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy?
A comic trifecta, no?
Stop me if you've heard this one before
Speaking of comedy, have you heard the one about the mutual fund that invests only in NASCAR-related stocks? I'm not making this up: The StockCar Stocks Index fund (SCARX) really does exist, and even warranted a profile a couple of Sundays ago in the business pages of The New York Times.
But even though the NASCAR angle is pretty catchy as mutual fund hooks go, a quick gander at its portfolio of roughly 50 names reveals that it has much more in common with the typical mutual fund than you might imagine.
Yes, earlier this year, companies such as Chevron
That's because, as the Times article pointed out, "sponsors and suppliers" are eligible for inclusion here, too. The upshot? An investment vehicle (pardon the pun) that sports an R-squared score -- a measurement of how much of a fund's performance can be chalked up to just a benchmark's movement -- of 82 relative to the S&P 500 for the three years that ended with July.
Truth be told ...
A score of 82 is actually reasonable for a large-cap fund; the question, of course, is what the fund has provided, in terms of performance, that investors couldn't procure with a dirt-cheap index tracker such as Vanguard 500
Indeed, for the three years that ended Aug. 3, StockCar Stocks lags the S&P by an annualized 1.4%. And while the fund's return since inception versus that index is admittedly much more impressive, this StockCar has lost out to the Russell 1000 Value bogey, the better proxy for its style.
To be sure, there are far worse funds out there than StockCar Stocks Index, which at least has the advantage of having a sense of humor. On the flipside, though, it has the disadvantage of a 1.5% expense ratio. That's quite high for a large-cap offering, an area of the fund universe that boasts a bevy of outperformers with talented managers and price tags that won't break your bank.
Great Neptune's trident!
As it happens, those are two of the qualities I look for when conducting research for Champion Funds, the Fool newsletter service that I run point on. I'm also after funds whose managers use stock-picking strategies that have been battle-tested over the long haul. Clever angles may be fun, after all, but they're really just marketing ploys, not investment philosophies.
Speaking of investment philosophies, how has Champion Funds' philosophy fared? Well, since the race began for our newsletter back in March 2004, our lineup of recommended funds has beaten the market by more than nine percentage points, and each of our model portfolios is beating its benchmark, too. If you'd like to sneak a peek at our winner's circle -- as well as our archives and members-only discussion boards -- say no more: A free 30-day guest pass is just a mouse click away. A brand-new issue goes live at 4 p.m. EDT today, so it's a particularly good day to get started.
I can't promise as many laughs as, say, Talladega Nights, but if you're looking for the cream of the fund industry's crop, we've got you covered. Click here to start your engines.