Part 1 of this series took a look at some of the best funds from fund giant T. Rowe Price
T. Rowe Price Blue Chip Growth Fund (TRBCX)
This fund looks for well-established large companies that have the potential for above-average growth. It seeks out companies with leading market share, an experienced management team, and solid fundamentals. Blue-chip stocks such as General Electric
Blue Chip Growth Fund keeps things diversified, with its largest sector bets currently in financials (20%) and the more growth-oriented health-care (17%) and hardware (14%) sectors. Puglia does not devote a lot of the portfolio to foreign names, with only about 8% of assets in international stocks. This fund tends to hold very large-to-megacap stocks, so investors who don't want this type of exposure should look elsewhere.
The fund has performed well, and is in line with expectations for such a large growth fund. It has generally beaten the Russell 1000 Growth benchmark, despite falling short of the S&P 500 Index at times. But this is not too worrisome, given growth stocks' difficulties in recent years. The fund's 10-year annualized return through August of 6.6% lands it in the top 25% of large growth funds for that period. This fund will likely lag during very strong, momentum-led growth markets, but it will also be insulated from the worst of market downturns.
T. Rowe Price Summit Municipal Income Fund (PRINX)
The last fund on our tour is a municipal bond fund. The Summit Municipal Income Fund invests primarily in investment-grade bonds that are exempt from federal income tax. The fund can invest as much as 20% of its assets in below-investment-grade debt, or "junk" bonds, but it has rarely ventured into this area. It has been run by manager Konstantine Mallas since its 1999 inception.
The fund maintains a focus on high quality, with roughly 45% of its assets in AAA-rated securities. Bonds holdings here tend to be in the longer-term range, as shown by the portfolio's weighted average maturity of 14 years. Fund expenses are pretty low, clocking in at 0.50%, making this a good choice for investors who need low-cost muni bond exposure.
Fund performance has been remarkably solid, with the fund's 10-year 5.4% annualized return launching it to the top 4% among national long municipal bond funds. In fact, the fund has landed in the top-performing half of all national muni bond funds every year of its existence. Summit Municipal Income has also typically kept just ahead of the Lehman Municipal Bond Index, beating the benchmark in six of the past 10 years. The asset base here is still reasonable, although investors do need to pony up $25,000 for a minimum investment. All in all, this fund is a great municipal bond fund candidate.
So whether you're interested in funds from one of the big-name fund shops, or those farther off the beaten path, take the time to research any mutual fund before you commit your hard-earned dollars. Don't rely on brand names to build your portfolio. Use your own research skills to find the best of the best, no matter where that may lead you.
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