Is ClearBridge Small Cap Growth A (SASMX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?

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Any investors hoping to find a Small Cap Growth fund could think about starting with ClearBridge Small Cap Growth A (SASMX). SASMX holds a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank of 2 (Buy), which is based on nine forecasting factors like size, cost, and past performance.

– Zacks

Objective

SASMX is part of the Small Cap Growth category, and this segment boasts an array of many other possible options. Small Cap Growth mutual funds usually focus their portfolios on stocks with large growth opportunities and a market cap of under $2 billion. These portfolios tend to feature small companies in up-and-coming industries and markets.

History of Fund/Manager

Franklin Templeton is based in San Mateo, CA, and is the manager of SASMX. Since ClearBridge Small Cap Growth A made its debut in August of 1999, SASMX has garnered more than $1.31 billion in assets. The fund’s current manager, Jeffrey J. Russell, has been in charge of the fund since January of 2007.

Performance

Obviously, what investors are looking for in these funds is strong performance relative to their peers. This fund carries a 5-year annualized total return of 22.09%, and it sits in the top third among its category peers. If you’re interested in shorter time frames, do not dismiss looking at the fund’s 3-year annualized total return of 19.73%, which places it in the middle 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. Compared to the category average of 16.55%, the standard deviation of SASMX over the past three years is 25.28%. Looking at the past 5 years, the fund’s standard deviation is 20.27% compared to the category average of 13.6%. This makes the fund more volatile than its peers over the past half-decade.

Risk Factors

Investors should note that the fund has a 5-year beta of 1.15, which means it is hypothetically more volatile than the market at large. Alpha is an additional metric to take into consideration, since it represents a portfolio’s performance on a risk-adjusted basis relative to a benchmark, which in this case, is the S&P 500. With a positive alpha of 2.49, 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, SASMX is a load fund. It has an expense ratio of 1.14% compared to the category average of 1.21%. So, SASMX is actually cheaper than its peers from a cost perspective.

This fund requires a minimum initial investment of $1,000, and each subsequent investment should be at least $50.

Bottom Line

Overall, ClearBridge Small Cap Growth A ( SASMX ) has a high Zacks Mutual Fund rank, and in conjunction with its comparatively strong performance, worse downside risk, and lower fees, this fund looks like a good potential choice for investors right now.

Want even more information about SASMX? Then go over to Zacks.com and check out our mutual fund comparison tool, and all of the other great features that we have to help you with your mutual fund analysis for additional information. Zacks provides a full suite of tools to help you analyze your portfolio – both funds and stocks – in the most efficient way possible.

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