Looking for a gem of a fund? You might want to consider Pearl Aggressive Growth Fund
Requiring a $5,000 minimum investment, or $2,000 for retirement accounts, this pearl isn't inexpensive to purchase. The good news is that the fund has an expense ratio of just less than 1%; there are no sales charges, commissions, or 12b-1 fees; and it's up 8% this year. Over the past three and five years, returns were 18.34% and 17.78%, respectively.
On the other hand, there is a 2% redemption fee for shares sold within 30 days of purchase. And not all investors can purchase Pearl, since the fund is registered in only 15 states -- primarily those with the largest populations. What's more, because the fund is self-distributed, it's not available through brokers. You need to contact Pearl directly to buy shares.
Pearl Management Company is the investment manager for both Pearl Aggressive Growth Fund and Pearl Total Return Fund. Other than these two mutual funds, the manager is not compensated for the management of any other funds or accounts.
A Park Avenue
The Pearl fund is run out of a Park Avenue address . in Muscatine, Iowa, once known as the "pearl button capital of the world." Pearl Management provides administrative and transfer agent services for the funds, which means all records relating to shareholders are handled in-house. Pearl seeks to provide personal and prompt service and promises that when you call, "A real, live person will take your call, promptly."
The fund's manager reimburses Pearl for all ordinary operating expenses exceeding an expense ratio of 0.98% up to $100 million and 0.78% in excess of $100 million. This is good news for investors, because it keeps the fund's expense ratio low and increases overall returns.
With a fund of funds, there's a double layer of fees -- one for the fund included in the portfolio and one for the fund manager. Yet Pearl Management does a great job of making investments on a no-load, no-sales-charge basis, and the fund has never paid any sales charge, commission, or redemption fee.
Heavy global focus
At the end of August, Pearl held 12 equity mutual funds in its portfolio. Its top three holdings at that point were Artisan International Small Cap (ARTJX), 14.54%; Matthews Pacific Tiger (MAPTX), 10.69%; and T. Rowe Price Emerging Europe & Mediterranean (TREMX), 9.94%. These investments are indicative of the fund's large holding -- 60% of the portfolio, in fact -- in overseas funds. Large- and medium-cap companies, coincidentally, make up just more than 60% of the fund's portfolio, while small and micro caps together make up 19%.
The fund consists of roughly $42 million in assets and has a three-person management team, much larger than the teams for most funds of its size. Robert H. Solt, David Stanley, and Richard R. Phillips are the fund's managers and also make up its investment committee.
One of the possible negatives at Pearl is its small asset base, which could limit the bargaining power and diversification of the fund, although that does not appear to be the case so far. In addition, the large percentage of the fund's assets invested overseas brings different risks than domestic investments do, while the fund's aggressive investment mandate also increases potential risks. And finally, the process of redeeming shares by mail or fax might put off some investors.
If you're looking for a fund for the long term and are willing to accept the risk of reaching for aggressive growth of capital, this Pearl might be worth adding to your string of funds.
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Fool contributor Zoe Van Schyndel lives in Miami and enjoys the sunshine and variety of the Magic City. She does not own shares in any of the funds or companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.