Is USAA Science & Technology Fund (USSCX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

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Having trouble finding a Sector – Tech fund? USAA Science & Technology Fund (USSCX) is a possible starting point. USSCX bears a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 3 (Hold), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

Load Error

Objective

USSCX is part of the Sector – Tech category, which boasts an array of different possible selections. With a much more diversified approach, Sector – Tech mutual funds give investors a way to own a stake in a notoriously risky sector. Tech companies are in various industries like semiconductors, software, internet, and networking, among others.

History of Fund/Manager

Victory is based in Columbus, OH, and is the manager of USSCX. USAA Science & Technology Fund made its debut in August of 1997, and since then, USSCX has accumulated about $1.92 billion in assets, per the most up-to-date date available. The fund’s current manager is a team of investment professionals.

Performance

Investors naturally seek funds with strong performance. USSCX has a 5-year annualized total return of 24.13% 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 25.42%, 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. The standard deviation of USSCX over the past three years is 24.55% compared to the category average of 19.3%. The standard deviation of the fund over the past 5 years is 20.01% compared to the category average of 16.05%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

Investors should not forget about beta, an important way to measure a mutual fund’s risk compared to the market as a whole. USSCX has a 5-year beta of 1.12, which means it is likely to be more volatile than the market average. Because alpha represents a portfolio’s performance on a risk-adjusted basis relative to a benchmark, which is the S&P 500 in this case, one should pay attention to this metric as well. Over the past 5 years, the fund has a positive alpha of 4.56. This means that managers in this portfolio are skilled in picking securities that generate better-than-benchmark returns.

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, USSCX is a no load fund. It has an expense ratio of 1.02% compared to the category average of 1.35%. From a cost perspective, USSCX is actually cheaper than its peers.

Investors should also note that the minimum initial investment for the product is $3,000 and that each subsequent investment needs to be at $50.

Bottom Line

Overall, USAA Science & Technology Fund ( USSCX ) has a neutral Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively strong performance, average downside risk, and lower fees, this fund looks like a somewhat average choice for investors right now.

For additional information on the Sector – Tech area of the mutual fund world, make sure to check out www.zacks.com/funds/mutual-funds. There, you can see more about the ranking process, and dive even deeper into USSCX too for additional information. For analysis of the rest of your portfolio, make sure to visit Zacks.com for our full suite of tools which will help you investigate all of your stocks and funds in one place.

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